Update

Now Archived! PolarConnect event with Mike Penn and Lee Welhouse from the South Pole Station in Antarctica on 17 December 2018. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives site.

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.

Latest Journals

Home! After just about five weeks of being in Antarctica, I'm now home safe and sound. School is back in full swing. There are no flight schedules to check, no humidity sensors to raise, no 70-pound lead-acid batteries to heft, no helicopters to load, no "house mouse" duties, and no "bag-drag"…
This is the fifth and final "Meet the Scientist" journal entry featuring the members of the intrepid Automatic Weather Station crew. Have you been wondering who is with me here in Antarctica and who we communicate with? Have you wondered how these people became scientists and what kind of…
I have mentioned that I met a fellow teacher (Michelle O'Leary) here at McMurdo. (I'll be writing a journal about Michelle soon.) In addition to her normal duties here, she is also a tour guide for "Scott's Hut." She offered to take us on a private tour of Scott's hut on Christmas Day. This hut…
Merry Christmas from Antarctica It is Christmas morning here in Antarctica, but right now, it is Christmas Eve back home. My family has just come home from church and they are all in the kitchen. There is a big spread of food on the island. There is "Christmas Cheese", smoked salmon, pepperoni…
Dates
-
Location
McMurdo Station
Project Funded Title
Antarctic Automatic Weather Station Program 2016-2019
Mike Penn - Educator
Educator
Shaler Area School District

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!

Matthew Lazzara - Researcher
Researcher
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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.

Antarctic Automatic Weather Stations 2018 Resources

Overview

For this activity, the students are going to draw on their own knowledge and experience with weather to predict the current temperatures around the world and then compare their predictions with real-time weather data from selected locations around the world.

Lesson
Antarctic
More than a week
High school and Up
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PolarTREC Field Experience

Never, in my 27 year career as a teacher, have I had so many students so interested and enthusiastic in so many broad and varied topics that they would have immediately dismissed as “boring” had I not participated in PolarTREC. I was happily mystified by the curiosity of the students and the depth of their interest in everything related to my expedition.

Report
Antarctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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PolarTREC Teacher Mike Penn and team leader Lee Welhouse discuss the science and their experiences while working in Antarctica on the Automatic Weather Stations. This event was broadcast live from South Pole Station on 17 December 2018.

Event
Antarctic
All Aged

This is an article in a local quarterly magazine (IN Shaler Winter 2018 ed.) about Mike Penn's PolarTREC deployment to Antarctica with the 2018 Automatic Weather Stations project.

Article
Antarctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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This is a newspaper article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that ran on 10/5/18. It is about PolarTREC teacher Michael Penn's expedition to Antarctica in November and December of 2018.

Article
Antarctic
Less than 1 period
All Aged
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