The Arctic Facility for Atmospheric Remote Sensing conducts research on the peculiar clouds and aerosols of the Interior and North Slope of Alaska. Of special interest are the frigid clouds of the upper-troposphere, cirrus clouds and aircraft condensation trails (contrails), because these clouds can have a profound effect on Earth's climate, and yet are almost completely unstudied in polar regions. Also of interest are the aerosols of this region, wintertime arctic haze, springtime Asian dust storm particles and summer smoke from western forest fires.
The instruments comprising AFARS are drawn largely from the facility Prof. Sassen established over 15 years at the University of Utah to study midlatitude clouds.
Current plans at UAF include the establishment of a multiple remote sensor facility on campus to be located on the roof of the Elvey Building. An additional facility, the mobile Polarization Diversity LIDAR will be located initially at the Poker Flat LIDAR site and then at the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation site in Barrow, Alaska.