2020-2021 Science Planning Summaries
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2020-2021 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Local-scale drivers and responses of thermospheric weather above Antarctica

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A-343-M/S Research Location(s): Arrival Heights, Near Field, B2 Laboratory


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Elizabeth Kauffman / Paul Sullivan / Sheryl Seagraves

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Mark Gerard Conde
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Physics Department
Fairbanks, Alaska

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: Arrival Heights, Near Field, B2 Laboratory


This project operates and maintains ground-based Fabry-Perot spectrometers at McMurdo Station and South Pole Station. The instruments measure mesospheric and thermospheric neutral winds and temperatures at heights of around 87 km, 120 km, and 240 km. The study will address both large-scale changes in mean flow and small-scale local perturbations, and it will independently resolve impacts due to forcing from above and from below. Existing instruments will be upgraded by adding a capability to measure winds and temperatures at mesopause heights. The study will be supported by collaborative data from existing mesospheric temperature mapper and Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) radar instruments in Antarctica and will, in turn, provide neutral wind and temperature data for use by our collaborators.

Field Season Overview

The instrumentation for this project is located in the Arrival Heights Lab at McMurdo Station and on the B2 Lab mezzanine at South Pole. The systems run continuously during the dark periods of winter, essentially autonomously, with only limited intervention required by personnel onsite and by the researchers via the internet. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts, no participants will deploy to service the equipment this season. An onsite Research Associate will put the equipment into operation during the winter months, take them out of operation in the Spring, and provide monitoring, troubleshooting, and the collection and forwarding of data as needed throughout the year.

Deploying Team Members

  • Mark Conde (PI)