British Antarctic Survey, Meteorological Observations (1956-)

Data set information

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Data holding centreBritish Antarctic Survey
CountryUnited Kingdom  United Kingdom
Time periodFrom 1956 onwards
Geographical area

Deception Island, Grytviken, Adelaide Island, Signy Island, Port Stanley, Rothera Point, Halley (formerly Halley Bay) and Faraday (formerly Argentine Islands)


Air pressure; Air temperature; Cloud cover height and extent; Atmospheric humidity; Cloud type; Precipitation and evaporation; Wind strength and direction; Other meteorological measurements; Ultra-violet (UV) radiation; Wind stress and shear; Solar Radiation; Visible waveband radiance and irradiance measurements in the atmosphere; Atmospheric visibility and transparency; Long-wave radiation


Meteorological packages


British Antarctic Survey (BAS) maintains a meteorological observing program at stations in the British Antarctic Territory and the South Atlantic. Archiving is undertaken at Cambridge and the Meteorological Office. Surface and upper-air measurements carried out by the Survey commenced at or around the time of the International Geophysical Year in 1956. Much of the collected data have been included in an ORACLE computer database at BAS allowing quick data retrieval. The data are arranged into the following areas: 1. SURFACE SYNOPTIC DATA: available for 8 stations - Deception Island, Grytviken, Adelaide Island, Signy Island, Port Stanley, Rothera Point, Halley (formerly Halley Bay) and Faraday (formerly Argentine Islands). All but the first 3 stations are operational. Those in operation have been located at the same or a nearby site up to the present and, apart from Rothera Point, Signy and Adelaide Island, have consistently carried out observations at 3 hourly intervals. Data for Signy are intermittent and irregular until recently and should be treated with caution from 1984 onward owing to the absence of a trained meteorological observer at the site at most times. Prior to the mid-1980s all observations were carried out manually. Automatic weather stations were introduced after this period at Faraday and Halley, in 1988 at Signy Island and in 1990 at Rothera Point. These automatically log all parameters apart from those that describe weather, cloud and visibility, which are recorded manually. The following (apart from date and time) gives information on parameters measured/how measured/units:
* date and time of the observation
* total cloud amount/visual/oktas
* cloud types and heights/manual/code
* direction from which wind blows/Munro direction vane/nearest 10° from North via East averaged over 10 mins
* wind speed/Munro cup generator/knots
* present and past weather conditions/manual/code
* mean sea level pressure/Kew type or aneroid barometer/nearest 0.1mbar
* screen dry-bulb temperature/platinum resistance thermometer/nearest 0.1degC
* screen wet-bulb temperature/platinum resistance thermometer and humidity readings/nearest 0.1degC
* saturation vapour pressure/derived using wet and dry bulb temperature/mbar and tenths of a mbar (e.g. 49=4.9 mbar)
* relative humidity/derived from dry-bulb and wet-bulb measurements/nearest 1 per cent
* dewpoint temperature/derived from dry-bulb and wet-bulb measurements/nearest 0.1degC 2. UPPER-AIR DATA: Upper-air observations are currently only undertaken by BAS at Halley but data for Faraday and Port Stanley are also on the database. Measurements are from radiosonde balloons. Inaccurate wind directions and speeds measured from Halley between 1984 and 1991 have periodically resulted from radio interference to the OMEGA windfinding system under certain weather conditions. Following the introduction of radiotheodolite windfinding in 1992 this problem no longer occurs. At present upper-air data should be treated with caution as they have yet (10/92) to be fully checked. Parameters are measured at the surface, the tropopause and the following standard pressure levels: 1000, 900, 850, 800, 700, 600, 500, 400, 300, 250, 200, 150, 100, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10mbar. In addition, measurements at 925mbar have been made at Halley from 1990 onward. The parameters that have been measured are as follows: date and standard time, geopotential height, temperature, humidity, wind direction, wind speed. 3. SURFACE RADIATION AND SUNSHINE MEASUREMENTS: Hourly radiation and sunshine duration measurements are available for the BAS sites at Halley and Faraday from 1986 onward, and for Signy Island from 1988 to date from BAS automatic weather stations and observational data. Parameters recorded are: observation date and GMT, duration (mins) of sunshine, total duration of sunshine in the current day, solar radiation (wm-2), UV radiation (wm-2), temperature.

OriginatorsBritish Antarctic Survey

Harangozo, S.A. and Colwell, S.R. (1992) British Antarctic Survey Meteorological Database User's Guide., Meteorology Section, Ice and Climate, BAS.

OrganisationBritish Antarctic Survey
AvailabilityBy negotiation
ContactAEDC Manager

British Antarctic Survey
High Cross Madingley Road

United Kingdom

Telephone+44 1223 251400
Collating centreBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
Local identifier1046009
Global identifier630
Last revised2009-12-03