2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries
U.S. Antarctic Program - Science Support Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
Antarctic Cloud Physics: Fundamental Observations from Ross Island

Program Manager:
Dr. Peter Milne


ASC POC/Implementer:
Cara Sucher / John Rand

Dr. Dan Lubin (Principal Investigator)

Scripps Institution of Oceanography
La Jolla, California

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  McMurdo Station, Arrival Heights

Project Description:
This project will make fundamental measurements of Antarctic cloud microphysical and optical properties through ground-based remote sensing at McMurdo Station. This Antarctic location is highly relevant for studies of cloud physics in three respects: 1) more fundamental understanding of key cloud nucleation and formation processes in a very cold and pristine environment, 2) validation and improvement of cloud microphysical parameterization in global climate models, and 3) improved cloud representation in regional models used for Antarctic weather prediction, leading to more reliable forecasting. Researchers will use remote sensing instrumentation consisting of: 1) an ASD spectroradiometer covering the wavelength range 350-2200 nm and recording spectra in one-minute averages continuously, and 2) ancillary broadband radiometers to monitor changes in surface albedo. Cloud thermodynamic phase, optical depth, effecitve particle size, and liquid (or ice) water path will be retrieved directly from the surface data. These surface retrievals will be merged with NASA A-Train satellite remote sensing data (CloudSat and Calipso) to yield a more complete understanding of the physical and meteorological processes that give rise to the observed cloud properties.

Field Season Overview:
One field team member from Scripps Institution of Oceanography will deploy to McMurdo Station in October to install the equipment with the help of station science technicians. The field team member will remain approximately one month to ascertain proper operation, and develop data collection and backup protocols that can be turned over to the science technicians.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Ryan Scott

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Alexandra Isern, Office of Polar Programs