Antarctic Weather – Adventures on the Ross Ice Shelf

Dr Ben Jolly, Landcare Research Ltd

 RSNZ Manawatu Branch February 2017 meeting

7.30 pm Tuesday, 21 February, Palmerston North Central Library, George Street, Palmerston North

 The harsh weather and remote nature of Antarctica creates challenging conditions for collecting in situ observations of any nature; however, meteorological observations pose several unique challenges. My thesis focused on the weather over the Ross Ice Shelf, a large floating mass of permanent ice approximately 4500 km due-south of Palmerston North. To investigate this, I helped to develop a new type of wirelessly networked Antarctic weather station, designed to be deployed in large numbers over a small area to provide weather observations with a high spatial resolution. After two years of testing and preliminary data gathering, we ran a larger campaign that deployed twenty stations over the summer months. I used the observations to investigate local-scale responses to large-scale weather events and evaluate a widely used weather forecasting model. Clouds can have a substantial impact on Antarctic weather and form an important part of the dynamical system. An additional piece of work investigated cloud cover using satellite observations with a ‘reanalysis’ (combined models/observations) dataset providing a connection to the surface conditions observed during our deployments.

All warmly welcome