Interaction of Air, Sea Ice, and Ocean Around Antarctica

Observations of surface air pressure (SAP) and surface air temperature (SAT) provide the foundation of our ability to forecast weather and ice conditions, and our ability to understand the earth’s climate and climate change. These basic variables are monitored through out the globe by weather stations on land, moored buoys along the coast, and drifting buoys in most of the world’s oceans. However, the Southern Ocean and sea ice around Antarctica continue to be one of the least sampled areas of the planet. This lack of observations around Antarctica hinders our ability to accurately predict weather (Bromwich and Cassano, 2001), and limits our ability to document the climate of Antarctica (e.g. Hines et al., 2000; Bromwich and Fogt, 2004; Bromwich et al., 2007).

Through this proposal, we plan to deploy a network of drifting buoys on sea ice in the Amundsen and Ross seas, which measure SAP, surface temperature (air and sea), sea ice motion, and ocean temperatures down to 200 m. When possible, these buoys will be collocated with Ice Mass Balance buoys that the British Antarctic Survey, and Scottish Association for Marine Sciences plan to deploy in the Bellinghausen and Amundsen Seas. These observations will be: 1.) Collected and quality controlled; 2.) Analyzed to produce 3-hourly interpolated time series of the data, and gridded fields of SAP, SAT, sea ice motion, ocean currents, and age of sea ice; 3.) Provided to the research community; and 4.) Archived at external data centers. The data will be contributed to the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), International Programme for Antarctic Buoys (IPAB), and the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center (AMRC) where the data may be obtained for operational weather forecasting for the USAP.