The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program, supported by the Department of Energy, is a major new program of atmospheric measurement and modeling intended to improve understanding of atmospheric radiation and the processes and properties that affect this radiation, for the purpose of improving the description of these processes in climate models. Accurate description of atmospheric radiation and the controlling phenomena, especially clouds and cloud processes, is necessary to improve the performance of and confidence in models used to study and predict climate change. The ARM program will consist of five highly instrumented primary measurement sites at land and ocean locations from the tropics to the Arctic which will operate for up to ten years, as well as additional secondary sites and specialized campaigns. Quantities to be measured at these sites include long- and shortwave radiation, and the vertical and horizontal distributions of clouds, water vapor, temperature, and other radiation-influencing quantities, and also meteorological variables that influence these quantities, including wind velocity, precipitation rate, and surface moisture, temperature, and fluxes of sensible and latent heat. These data streams will be used for the prospective testing of models of varying complexity, ranging from detailed process models to general circulation models of the earth's atmosphere operating in a single column mode. This article reviews the scientific background of the ARM program, describes the design of the program, and presents its current status and plans.
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