Welcome to the Field Research Division of NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory

News Update

FRD selected for 2007 NOAA Bronze Medal.  Click for details.

Randy Johnson receives DOC Silver Medal.  Click for details.

New NOAA INL Weather Center site now available.  Click for details.

FRD becomes NOAA's first StormReady Supporter.  Click for details.


To advance NOAA's mission by improving our understanding of atmospheric transport, dispersion and air-surface exchange processes.


  • We conduct experiments to better understand atmospheric transport and dispersion.
  • We improve both the theory and models of air-surface exchange processes.
  • We develop exciting technology and instrumentation to carry out our mission.
  • We support DOE's INL with meteorological forecasts and provide emergency response capabilities.


FRD (Field Research Division), part of the NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory, is a staff of talented meteorologists, chemists, engineers, and technicians.


We design and build instrumentation, perform atmospheric dispersion tests, build data collection devices and analysis software, integrate software and hardware systems, chase hurricanes, build and launch weather balloons with GPS tracking systems, and we've even been known to track the balloons across the ocean.

We help design and maintain weather information kiosks around the Southeastern Idaho region, we participate in outreach and education programs with the public schools, we provide online weather forecasts and other meteorological information for numerous agencies including the National Weather Service, the INL, and the INL Emergency Operations Center.


Last year's hurricane season was a real tree breaker, and we were there to measure wind speed and wind turbulence in real time. If you've ever been outdoors in a windstorm, then you know the wind gusts up and down, rather than maintaining a steady speed. It is these brief gusts (turbulence) that can cause the most damage to buildings during a hurricane, so we've set out to measure them precisely. The results will help engineers determine the design requirements for buildings to be able to withstand hurricane force winds.

Here you can see an ET Sphere mounted on an SUV for testing. Driving at high speeds creates a hurricane-force wind on the sphere, and the vehicle's speedometer helps us evaluate the ET Sphere's accuracy. After we were satisfied with the instrumentation, we set up ET Spheres on the coastline when Hurricanes Frances and Ivan came onshore. Results from these tests will be available soon!

Our team helps the Department of Homeland Security understand atmospheric dispersion of chemical, biological, and nuclear agents. We've participated in operation Pentagon Shield, the Homeland Security Tracer Studies in Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, and Midtown Manhattan and other important programs. These studies will help emergency personnel respond correctly in the the event of terrorist attack. We also design and build instrumentation for severe weather research such as the CBLAST Hurricane Study.

FOX News interviewed several of our staff members and filmed our equipment in action (inside the NOAA van) for a television special on bioterrorism.


FRD is located in Idaho Falls which is in the Upper Snake River Plain of Southeastern Idaho. We also travel the world in support of our work.

Field Research Division
1750 Foote Drive
Idaho Falls, Idaho, 83402
Tel: (208) 526-2329
Fax: (208) 526-2549

Lightning strike at dusk near the FRD office.