National Security

Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) has supported critical missions in national security for more than three decades by enabling warfighters and mission planners to operate, navigate and communicate, regardless of weather conditions. AER's expertise has been essential because clouds and atmospheric conditions have a direct and often severe impact on operations in the field. Our national security work includes longstanding joint development of proprietary technologies in remote sensing and numerical weather prediction with the U.S. government.

AER provides clients with the in-depth intelligence they need for decision-making. For example, our algorithms detect not just the presence of clouds but also their height, thickness and projected future locations. Our understanding of the Earth's processes and the measurements collected from remote sensors – both satellite and ground-based – enables us to fuse information from multiple sources into a complete and highly accurate picture. The result? Missions can proceed as planned without weather-related complications.

These and other capabilities have made AER a valued partner to all branches of the U.S. military and U.S. government civil agencies, as well as to the nation's leading federal contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Harris, CSC and ITT.

AER's national security work includes the following

Air Force Cloud Depiction and Forecast System – Version II (CDFS-II)

Our science team serves as the cloud remote sensing science partner to the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency.

AER's research team developed the suite of science algorithms and software for CDFS-II. Assimilating data from operational polar and geostationary environmental satellites, CDFS-II analyses provide hourly, detailed global cloud information to deployed military decision makers supporting combat operations, mission planning and reconnaissance.

Next-generation U.S. weather satellite system (GOES-R)

AER is a key partner in developing the environmental science algorithms and software to process satellite data from this new weather satellite program and to turn that data into weather details such as lightning, cloud height, precipitation and temperature.

GOES-R is designed to provide essential data to detect, track and predict severe weather and hurricanes, and to monitor solar activity and space weather – all with unprecedented fidelity and timeliness.

Data repository based on decades of weather and climate data

AER's databases contain decades of globally consistent details about climatological events. These data are an invaluable research aid in predicting environmental impacts on both terrestrial and space weather sensor systems, as well as in providing realistic scenarios for modeling and simulation. For example, AER can:

  • Validate weather and climate forecasting models
  • Provide historically accurate environmental scenarios for modeling and simulation
  • Help aerospace contractors perform sensor concept trade studies
  • Develop prototypes of operational environmental data retrieval software
  • Accurately predict and assess sensor performance
  • Develop computer simulations that spare clients the time and expense of developing hardware breadboard prototypes

Soil moisture and trafficability

To help keep armored vehicles from getting bogged down in marshy terrain or stranded in desert sands, our algorithms accurately estimate land surface type, open water coverage, soil moisture and vegetation water content.

Surveillance and reconnaissance

Our tools and techniques are used for:

  • Sensor tasking
  • Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR)
  • Space situational awareness (SSA)

Climate change implications

Our capabilities enable government clients to:

  • Assess the impact of rising sea levels on naval bases
  • Understand the implications of water and food security for civil unrest and humanitarian missions
  • Navigate through open waters in the Arctic
  • Evaluate alternative energy use in ships and planes
  • Conduct scenario planning

Modeling and Simulation (M&S)

Our M&S capabilities support all branches of the U.S. military with environmental scenarios used in warfighter training.

We develop and manage technology programs, including Environmental Scenario Generator (ESG) and Environmental Data Cube Support Systems (EDCSS), for the M&S community.

Space environment modeling and analysis

Our models, research and data analysis provide climatalogical and forecasted descriptions of the near-Earth space environment used to:

  • Resolve spacecraft anomalies
  • Plan and operate satellite missions
  • Enable communications reliability

Projects and products include design and operation of the Air Force Research Laboratory Communication/Navigation and Outage Forecasting Satellite (AFRL C/NOFS) AFRL C/NOFS data center, research and development support of AFRL's AF-GEOSpace model and visualization suite, and the commercial Space Environment and Effects Toolkit (STK/SEET) product.

AER's quality is backed by our ISO 9001 certification, and services are available both directly and through GSA contract vehicles.