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ACES- Antarctic Climate and the Earth System


This project is part of the BAS GSAC five year research programme. It was funded by NERC and extended from 2005 to 2009.

ACES aims to investigate the atmospheric and oceanic links that connect the climate of the Antarctic to that of lower latitudes, and their controlling mechanisms. Specific research topics include the formation and properties of Antarctic clouds, the complexities of the atmospheric boundary layer and the importance to the global ocean circulation of cold, dense water masses generated in the Antarctic.

Data will be collected by a comprehensive programme of oceanographic measurements from BAS ships in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas and by the Twin Otter aircraft, which will allow for the study of cloud microphysics and air-sea-ice interaction. An ice core will be collected from the southwestern Antarctic Peninsula and will give a 150-year record of the strength of the circumpolar westerly winds. This data will be used to test and improve global climate models and a new regional atmosphere-ice-ocean model for the Antarctic.

ACES has two components: ACES-FOCAS (Forcings from the Ocean, Clouds, Atmosphere and Sea-ice) and ACES-ACCENT (Antarctic Climate Change and Nonlinear Teleconnections). It also links with several other projects: CACHE, GRADES, GEACEP, BIOFLAME, DISCOVERY2010 and SEC.

Scientific Objectives

The main objectives are:

  • Understand the interactions between atmosphere, sea-ice and ocean at high southern latitudes
  • Develop models to aid our understanding of Antarctic regional processes and enable the representation of essential regional phenomena in global models covering both the atmosphere and ocean
  • Determine the nature and influence of the principal connections between Antarctica and the global climate system
  • Determine the importance of water masses of Antarctic origin in the global ocean circulation
  • Determine the sensitivity of the global climate system to processes occurring or originating in the Antarctic

Data Availability

Data sets collected during this project are available to the academic community.

Acronyms used in this text:

BAS- British Antarctic Survey

GSAC- Global Science in an Antarctic Context

NERC- Natural Environment Research Council

CACHE- Climate and Chemistry: forcings , feedbacks and phasings in the Earth System

GRADES- Glacial retreat in Antarctica and Deglaciation of the Earth System

GEACEP- Greenhouse to ice-house: Evolution of the Antarctic Cryosphere and Paleoenvironment

BIOFLAME- Biodiversity, Function, Limits and Adaptation from Molecules to Ecosystems

DISCOVERY2010- Integrating Southern Ocean Ecosystems into the Earth System

SEC- Sun Earth Connections Programme