The development of Antarctic satellite composite imagery in October 1992 led to the founding of the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center (AMRC) within SSEC. AMRC’s composite imagery revolutionized the view of weather systems around the Antarctic, especially for weather forecasting. The late Professor Charles Stearns envisioned the utility and potential impact on research, of making satellite composites from geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites over the Antarctic and adjacent Southern Ocean. The composite products have since become routinely available.
Improved Antarctic and Arctic satellite composites now include additional spectral channels, such as water vapor and visible. They also have increased resolution from 10 km to 5 km. These observations have supported meteorological research and other science investigations for over two decades. The Arctic composites are in the process of being transferred to NOAA NESDIS operations to be permanently generated to support NOAA’s mission to the Arctic.
While the composite imagery celebrates a 20 year anniversary, it in fact continues the long history of Antarctic meteorological research of SSEC and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences – from Professor Heinz Lettau who studied the dynamics of Antarctic surface winds to Professor Werner Schwerdtfeger who studied weather and climate of the Antarctic to Professor Charles Stearns who is largely credited with establishing the network of automatic weather stations (AWS) in the Antarctic.
Today, with funding from the National Science Foundation Office for Polar Programs, the University of Wisconsin has over 60 AWS sites active in Antarctica which is more than half of all AWS systems currently deployed in the Antarctic. The AWS network supports meteorological and glaciological research activities around the world.
Led by Dr. Matthew Lazzara since 2007, the AMRC brings meteorological data stewardship and expertise along with observational research to the United States Antarctic Program.