Antarctic Meteorology Research Center

THE ANTARCTIC METEOROLOGY Research Center (AMRC) is part of the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Graduate School. The AMRC collects most of its data from automatic weather stations. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation to make available daily composite images from weather satellite data. AMRC also monitors icebergs and has tracked the large iceberg B-15 since it calved in March 2000.

The AMRC was established in the 1992-93 austral summer season and initially consisted of work stations able to organize and display Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer data, based on the existing satellite imagery acquisition system. This was followed by the acquisition and integration of a system that provided data collection, data display and archiving, scientific applications, network communications, and remote user access. The AMRC runs the Automatic Weather Station Project, which places automatic weather station (AWS) units in remote areas of Antarctica in support of meteorological research and operations. The AWS data are recorded by the ARGOS Data Collection System (DCS) on board the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) series of polar-orbiting satellites.

Antarctica is the highest and coldest continent in the world. 97 percent of its territory is covered with ice with an average elevation of 2,300 meters and an average annual temperature of minus 31 degrees F (minus 35 degrees C). Since large portions of Antarctica are difficult to reach regularly by humans, the idea of an automated system appealed to many, and thus the AWS project was born. Maintaining staffed sites for collecting meteorological observations was considered too expensive. An automatic weather station would allow the gathering of important weather information without having to have a person on duty at each site.

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