Summer 2013 “Through the Atmosphere” Available

July 16, 2013 | Mark Hobson

A Note from SSEC Director Hank Revercomb:

In addition to its fundamental role in establishing and maintaining the Earth’s climate, ice enhances nature’s magnificent beauty. While investigating the role of ice in weather and climate, we are fortunate to also experience the beauty of its sun dogs, solar pillars, and yes, even the unusual fog bow in Greenland.

This issue of “Through the Atmosphere” focuses on our polar regions research where understanding the role of ice in the form of both surface cover and cloud particles is key to explaining the mysteries of the Earth’s climate. The tools of this research are diverse, ranging from the satellite’s view from above, to observations from the surface upward, to capturing the Earth’s past below the surface, and even delving into the microphysics of cloud particle structures and their interaction with electromagnetic radiation.


The importance of this broad perspective toward the fields of weather and climate is certainly recognized by the new director of the National Weather Service, Dr. Louis Uccellini (see first article). Dr. Uccellini’s statement that “it’s not just the weather anymore” refers to that need to take a larger view and to connect with society to save lives. Louis has also shown a longterm commitment to bridging the research and operational communities together.

The articles on polar research and ice begin with recent observations of an extensive surface melt event in Greenland and of the declining Arctic sea ice extent. Both illustrate the role that clouds can play in enhancing surface warming, as well as the cooling that we often associate with a cloudy day.

We also report on two very different endeavors in the south polar regions of Western Antarctica. The long commitment to deploying Automatic Weather Stations on the surface in Antarctica is playing a key role in detecting West Antarctica warming. Also, temperature trends over the scale of tens of thousands of years are being pursued by removing ice core samples throughout the depth of the ice sheet. Following a record setting coring achievement in the 2011/2012 drilling season, this season brought a new first by resampling critical regions using a new replicate drilling technique.

I invite you to read more about these exciting research programs and other endeavors at SSEC in “Through the Atmosphere.”

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Through the Atmosphere is a biannual publication that features atmospheric and space science research as well as engineering projects and accomplishments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) and its Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS). The Summer 2013 edition of this research newsletter, and all previous editions, are available online and in print.