Camagüey Cuba
Atmospheric and optics scientists gathered in Camagüey, Cuba, on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Grupo de Óptica Atmosférica de Camagüey. Credit: Fotografias JIPS/500px/Getty Images

The Grupo de Óptica Atmosférica de Camagüey (GOAC) was founded in October 1988 with the deployment of a stratospheric lidar, thanks to the scientific cooperation of the former Soviet Union with Cuba. GOAC conducted a workshop for its 30th anniversary with the aims of improving research conducted to fulfill GOAC’s long-term scientific goals, maintaining and increasing existing international cooperation, and planning future research. Because of the important role of international cooperation during GOAC’s lifetime, attendees included foreign scientists who are currently cooperating and others who are interested in beginning. The sponsors were the Camagüey chapter of the Cuban Meteorological Society; the Camagüey Meteorological Center (CMC); and the delegation of the Ministry of Sciences, Technology, and Environment in Camagüey.

Scientific sessions included presentations by GOAC researchers on past scientific results, followed by current and planned research. Subjects discussed included solar radiation, tropospheric aerosols in the Caribbean, stratospheric aerosols, and water vapor. Presentations and exchanges took place on data rescue being conducted by GOAC, rescuing long series of solar radiation observations and surface temperature in Cuba, and stratospheric aerosol measurements by lidars and other instruments worldwide.

lidar optics stratospheric atmospheric aerosols goac
The stratospheric lidar that GOAC deployed upon the group’s founding in 1988 to take measurements of aerosols. On its 30th anniversary, the group committed to refurbishing it. Credit: Rene Estevan-Arredondo

Among the most relevant results discussed were GOAC’s validation of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board Terra and Aqua with the on-site Sun photometer. Small differences between Terra and Aqua atmospheric optical depths (AOD) allow combining both series for climatological studies. Broadband AOD from pyrheliometers showed good agreement with MODIS climatological AOD series. Comparing MODIS-derived angstrom exponents with the Sun photometer corroborated its limited skills. In addition, simultaneous dimming and brightening have been found in the Camagüey station solar record from 1981 to 2016. Dimming happens under all sky conditions associated with an increasing trend in cloud cover during that period. In contrast, under clear-sky conditions, brightening occurs because of a decreasing trend in aerosols.

Foreign researchers visited the GOAC facilities, examining instruments for aerosol, solar radiation, and water vapor observations. Several action items were agreed upon to continue supporting the existing facilities. The refurbished lidar optics and its mechanical support were on display for the visitors, and the importance of international cooperation and support to rebuild the lidar was a focus of attention. Actions were also agreed upon to complete and make operative the angular calibration system for solar radiation sensors, donated by the Grupo de Óptica Atmosférica from the University of Valladolid (GOA-UVA) in Spain.

The public closing session began with a show of respect and admiration from GOAC members for Dr. Barclay Clemesha, who passed away 22 October 2018. Members of the Cuban Meteorological Society, researchers, and personnel from CMC attended the lectures by some of the visiting scientists on their main research work. Alan Robock (Rutgers University, United States), Angel de Frutos and Victoria Cachorro (GOA-UVA), and Errico Armandillo (European Space Agency) each received a diploma of recognition for their extraordinary and long-standing scientific cooperation with GOAC. It would have been impossible for GOAC to achieve the scientific results discussed in the workshop without the unselfish and sustained cooperation of all of these scientists.

—Juan Carlos Antuña-Marrero ( and Albeht Rodriguez-Vega, Grupo de Óptica Atmosférica de Camagüey, Camagüey Meteorological Center, Cuba; and Alan Robock, Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.


Antuña-Marrero, J. C.,Rodriguez-Vega, A., and Robock, A. (2019), Three decades of atmospheric optics research in Camagüey, Cuba, Eos, 100, Published on 27 February 2019.

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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