2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Oceans & Climate

Dr. Bernhard Lettau
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 00-88058
Station: McMurdo Station
RPSC POC: Howie Tobin
Research Site(s): Numerous Automatic Weather Station sites

Antarctic automatic weather station program: 2001-2004
Dr. Charles R. Stearns
University of Wisconsin Madison
Space Science and Engineering Center/AMRC
Dr. George Weidner
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Space Science and Engineering Center/AMRC

Deploying Team Members: Matthew A Lazzara . George A Weidner
Research Objectives: A network of nearly 50 automatic weather stations (AWS) has been established on the antarctic continent and several surrounding islands. These facilities were built to measure surface wind, pressure, temperature, and humidity. Some of them also track other atmospheric variables, such as snow accumulation and incident solar radiation.

Their data are transmitted via satellite to a number of ground stations and put to several uses, including operational weather forecasting, accumulation of climatological records, general research purposes, and specific support of the U.S. Antarctic Program - especially the LTER program at McMurdo and Palmer Stations. The AWS network has grown from a small-scale program in 1980 into a significant data retrieval system that is now extremely reliable, and has proven indispensable for both forecasting and research purposes. This project maintains and augments the AWS, as necessary.

Field Season Overview:
The McMurdo Station team will travel by Twin Otter aircraft to service AWS sites on the Ross Ice Shelf and by helicopter and snowmobile to service sites in the Ross Island region. The team members will travel by LC-130 aircraft to Byrd Surface Camp or Siple Dome Camp, and by Twin Otter aircraft from these camps to service AWS stations near those locations. Project team members will also service an AWS placed on iceberg B-15A for Douglas MacAyeal's project (IO-190-O).

The South Pole Station team will travel by Twin Otter aircraft to service two AWS sites about 100 kilometers away. AWS service in these remote locations includes raising the sensors because of snow accumulation. The Clean Air AWS at South Pole Station will also be serviced.

The Palmer Station science technician monitors data sent out from the AWSs and will work with the support contractor's marine science personnel to service the stations if conditions allow. Currently two stations need servicing and visits are scheduled for cruise LMG 02-08. Landings will be made by small boats if weather and sea-state conditions permit. No project team members will deploy to Palmer Station.

Other AWS locations around the continent will be serviced by members of the British Antarctic Survey team and the Japanese Antarctic Program. Tentative field work is also planned for AWSs supported by the French Institute for Polar Research and Technology (IFRTP) at the French Dumont D'Urville Station.

Weather and sea-state conditions permitting, crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Sea will set up and install a new AWS "dog house" on Young Island in the Balleny Islands during its southbound transit. A second AWS will be installed at Scott Island on the northbound transit.

AWS units are also scheduled for installation in West Antarctica by members of the U.S. ITASE traverse team at sites to be determined.