Antarctic Automatic Weather Stations 2018

What Are They Doing?

Completed infrastructure of an AWS.Completed infrastructure of an AWS. The Antarctic Automatic Weather Station (AWS) network has been making meteorological observations since the early 1980s. This continent-wide network is positioned to observe significant meteorological events and increase our understanding of the climate of the Antarctic surface. Researchers utilize the AWS network to observe and learn about the Antarctic in a warming world. Given the duration of the AWS program and maintaining AWS sites for many years, numerous studies have been conducted on the surface climatology of regions of the continent, such as the Ross Ice Shelf. This climatology also aids in other studies, like winter warming events.

The Antarctic Automatic Weather Station network provides a greater understanding of the surface meteorology and climatology throughout the continent of Antarctica. The AWS network spans the Ross Ice Shelf, Ross Island, West Antarctica, East Antarctica, and the South Pole. Since some of the AWS have been working for over 30 years, we can begin to understand the climate over many regions of Antarctica.

Where Are They?

A view of McMurdo Station from Hut Point. Photo by Jacquelyn Hams.A view of McMurdo Station from Hut Point. Photo by Jacquelyn Hams. Based at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, the team will travel to remote locations. These locations may include the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and South Pole Station.

Expedition Map

Project Information

Dates: 24 November 2018 to 20 December 2018
Location: McMurdo Station
Project Funded Title: Antarctic Automatic Weather Station Program 2016-2019

Meet the Team

Mike Penn's picture
Shaler Area School District
Glenshaw, PA
United States

Most people would describe Mike Penn as having an annoyingly positive outlook, being ridiculously over prepared, being a huge fan of the Oxford Comma and two spaces after a period, and having boundless enthusiasm for all things science. First and foremost, Mike is an enthusiastic lifelong learner. Professionally, he is a teacher of the gifted, Gifted Department Co-Chair and STEM coordinator at Shaler Area School District, a large suburban school district near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has one of the coolest jobs ever! He runs a spaceship simulator at his school and leads the community of practice of Dream Flight Adventures simulators around the world. He is constantly seeking to create dynamic, challenging and exciting authentic learning experiences that inspire wonder, discovery, and the thirst for learning in his students. Mike pushes the envelope and boundaries of where, how and why learning should occur for all students. Through years in the Army, being a Boy Scout Scoutmaster and a lifetime of being an outdoor enthusiast he has lots of experience in outdoor survival and first aid skills. Living on a small farm he is adept at maintaining, fixing and troubleshooting old and broken machines and equipment. Running a spaceship simulator has made him good at operating and troubleshooting uncooperative technology. When Mike is not daydreaming or teaching, he is enjoying time with his wife and children, reading, learning new things, trying to stay in shape, building stone walls and traveling. His favorite question is "Wouldn't it be cool if…?" He is beyond excited and honored to be chosen to provide this awesome experience for his students!

Carol Costanza's picture
Antarctic Meteorological Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI
United States

Carol Costanza is an Associate Instrument Technician at the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She works on the Automatic Weather Station (AWS) project and has deployed to Antarctica four times. The AWS project was started in 1980 and currently maintains a network of about 60 AWS across the continent. Carol’s work focuses on the data processing and data management of the AWS data.

Matthew Lazzara's picture
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI
United States

Dr. Matthew A. Lazzara is an Associate Scientist and Research Meteorologist at the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center (AMRC), Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW–Madison). He is presently the Principal Investigator of the Antarctic Automatic Weather Station Program. Dr. Lazzara is also a faculty member and Department Chair in the Department of Physical Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, at Madison Area Technical College. There he teaches courses on weather & climate and climate & climate change. He’s research work focuses on observing the Antarctic from the surface and from satellites to gain an understanding of how Antarctic weather and climate behaves. Dr. Lazzara has deployed to Antarctica 10 times in the last 23 years.

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Latest Comments

I think this is a great idea! Your students could make fake beards to wear while you are gone. Is that weird? nawwwww. It'd be fun!
Judy, There is so much to think about! Amid calculating the change over time of Automatic Weather Station coordinates due to ice shelf drift, attending antarctic meteorological conferences, and...
I'm so glad to see that you are contemplating these very important questions well before you deploy! We'll be waiting and watching for further updates on this 'hair-raising' subject.
Wendi! The whole PolarTREC program oozes intrepidness!  Intrepidness is definitely a word (even if my computer disagrees).  
This ad just oozes intrepidness. (it's now a word) I wonder what would happen if that ad were posted today! There is certainly something daring and exciting about it, and I imagine his journey will...