The International Antarctic Weather Forecasting Handbook:

IPY 2007-08 Supplement


Steve Colwell

Natural Environment Research Council,

High Cross,

Madingley Road,

Cambridge, CB3 0ET, United Kingdom


Submitted May 2008

*Contribution relevant to Chapter 4 Data Availability and Characteristics.

Editors’ note: at this time, the contribution has not been adapted to the original Handbook style, especially wrt numbering of figures etc.

READER (REference Antarctic Data for Environmental Research) is a project of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR http://www.scar.org/) and encompasses Met READER, Ice READER and Southern Ocean READER.

Met READER has the goal of creating a high quality, long term dataset of mean surface and upper air meteorological measurements from in-situ Antarctic observing systems. These data will be of value in climate research and climate change investigations.

The primary sources of data are the Antarctic research stations and automatic weather stations (AWS). Data from mobile platforms, such as ships and drifting buoys are not being collected since our goal is to derive time series of data at fixed locations.

Surface and upper air data are being collected and the principal statistics derived are monthly means. Daily data will not be provided in order to keep the data set to a manageable size. With the resources available to the project, it is clearly not possible to collect all the information that could be required by the whole range of investigations into change in the Antarctic. Instead a key set of meteorological variables (surface temperature (°C), mean surface and sea level pressure (hPa) and surface wind speed (knots) and wind direction (degrees), and upper air temperature (°C), geopotential height (m), wind speed (knots) and wind direction (degrees) at standard levels) are being assembled and a definitive set of measurements presented for use by researchers.

A lot of stations have been operated in the Antarctic over the years; many for quite short periods. However, our goal here is to provide information on the long time series that can provide insight into change in the Antarctic. So to be included, the record from a station must extend for 25 years, although not necessarily in a continuous period, or be currently in operation and have operated for the last 10 years. In Met READER we have chosen to use only data from year-round stations.

It is important when using mean data to know the number of observations that were used in computing the means. Met READER mean monthly values are therefore colour coded to indicate the percentage of possible observations used in computing each mean. Black when the data have been obtained from the national operator. Green when the data have been obtained from the Global Telecommunication Service (GTS). Blue where the data have come from CLIMAT messages and only the monthly mean values are available and Red where the percentage of observations are too low to calculate an accurate mean (< 90 % for surface and < 30 % for upper air).

The number in brackets after the value is the percentage of observations available and a text based version of the table can be downloaded from the bottom of each web page but the data shown in red are not included in this text version.

Metadata are being provided, where possible, to indicate the type of observing systems used to make the measurements, changes of observing site, changes of observing practice etc. The structure of the metadata is deliberately flexible and will vary considerable between stations, depending on what information is available.

Met READER data set is being disseminated through the World Wide Web at http://www.Antarctica.ac.uk/met/programs-hosted.html. The data set covers the period up to the end of 2005 and contains all the data collected so far.

The data set will be kept up to date by using data that is received via the global telecommunications service (GTS) and then every 5 years the national operators will be contacted to get an update for the past 5 years.

Ice READER will host basic data from ice cores of the Antarctic Continent. The goal is to compile a complete list of cores by name, site, location and as much other information as possible. There is an interactive map that can be accessed at

http://www2.umaine.edu/itase/content/icereader/  this has information about the location of the core, the depth that is was drilled, the age that that covers and what it has been sampled for and where the data can be accessed.

Southern Ocean READER is a portal for links to temperature, salinity and ocean current data from the Southern Ocean. The main page can be accessed at http://www.Antarctica.ac.uk/met/SCAR_ssg_ps/OceanREADER/index.html

On the main pages the links lead to sites with data that can be accessed almost immediately. These have been laid out in the sections Temperature, Salinity and Currents. On the Other links page there is a list of sites where data can be found by contacting the data centre to get access to it, or other sites that provide good graphical data but no numerical data. On the Extras page there is a list of the data sets from AADCP and a list of gridded datasets.