1.3 The Antarctic Automatic Weather Station Network: The Challenges and Rewards of Making Polar Observations

Monday, 29 April 2013: 9:15 AM
South Room (Renaissance Seattle Hotel)
David E. Mikolajczyk, Antarctic Meteorological Research Center/ Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; and M. A. Lazzara, L. J. Welhouse, L. M. Keller, J. E. Thom, M. Tsukernik, and J. J. Cassano

For the past 33 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has operated a network of automatic weather stations (AWS) across the Antarctic. The goal of having this network is to capture the surface meteorology and climatology of the continent, which can include, but is not limited to, such phenomena as katabatic winds, barrier winds, polar lows, and the Ross Ice Shelf Air stream. The network has been used historically to diagnose key climatic features of the Antarctic and has also evolved into an invaluable resource for operational meteorology, as well as a research and educational resource. The AWS data are made publicly available in both raw and quality-controlled formats.

Today, over half of the approximately 120 Antarctic AWS belong to the Wisconsin network. Maintaining this network is an annual task, with members of our group traveling to Antarctica every austral summer. This 2012-2013 field season consisted of traveling to stations in the greater McMurdo area, visits to various stations on the Ross Ice Shelf, and time spent at WAIS (West Antarctic Ice Sheet) field camp in order to visit stations in the West Antarctic. One of our main goals was to expand a Freewave network in the greater McMurdo area by installing an AWS on White Island, which also serves as a repeater. Other stations, such as Windless Bight and Minna Bluff, needed updating and servicing of their instrumentation. As usual, the weather and the availability of the vehicles for transportation were crucial factors in determining the amount of work we were able to accomplish. This presentation includes an overview of the field season and network status report, as well as any noteworthy observations, and a brief discussion of future efforts.

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