2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Implementing low-power, autonomous observing systems to improve the measurement and understanding of Antarctic precipitation

Antarctic Precipitation System (APS) installation at Phoenix Airfield.
Photo by: Mark Seefeldt
O-456-M Research Location(s): Phoenix and Williams Airfield / Alexander Tall Tower! / Lorne AWS


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1543377

Program Manager:
Dr. Peter Milne

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Mark W Seefeldt
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, Colorado


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Phoenix and Williams Airfield / Alexander Tall Tower! / Lorne AWS


This project's objectives focus on improving measurement of precipitation in Antarctica, advancing understanding of precipitation processes, and using this knowledge to evaluate weather and climate models. Precipitation measurement in Antarctica is inherently difficult because of the small amount of annual precipitation and the challenge of distinguishing falling snow from blowing snow. However, accurate measurement is critical for calculating Antarctica’s mass balance and contribution to global sea-level rise, interpreting ice-core records, and providing benchmarks for promising model- and satellite-based precipitation estimates.

Field Season Overview

The 2018-19 field season is focused on the maintenance, repairs, and data retrieval at each of four Antarctic precipitation system (APS) sites. The four sites are Alexander Tall Tower!, Williams Field, Phoenix Airfield, and Lorne automatic weather station (AWS). The level of work to be completed will not be known until this austral spring after assessing the instruments. The team will require two trips via helicopter to Lorne AWS and two trips to Tall Tower! via fixed-wing aircraft. The first visit to each location is for the retrieval of the equipment to be adjusted and repaired, and the second visit is to finalize the instrumentation for the second year of field observations. UNAVCO will also be involved with the field work in order to do any maintenance work on UNAVCO-provided power systems for the APS sites.

Deploying Team Members

  • Scott Landolt (Co-PI)
  • Mark Seefeldt (PI)