International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere

Project Description
Short Title: IASOA
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To monitor and understand the Arctic atmosphere, there are number of key questions that need to be answered. In particular:

(1) How do clouds, aerosols and atmospheric chemistry interact to force the Pan-Arctic surface energy balances and albedo-temperature feedback?

(2) What is the relative role of tropospheric dynamics and stratospheric linkages in controlling the Arctic surface variability?

(3) What portion of the recent changes in the Arctic weather and climate can be attributed to increases in anthropogenic sources?

(4) How does the Arctic atmosphere interact with the rest of the Arctic (marine, cryospheric and terrestrial) system?

(5) To answer these questions (and others), all of the available observational resources represented by surface and upper air network observations, intensive observatories, satellite observations, manned and unmanned airborne measurements, and focused field campaigns must be utilized.

Specific tasks will be undertaken to:

* Coordinate the efforts at a number of atmospheric observatory sites that are year-round, intensive, permanent, and with sufficient infrastructure and personnel to operate sophisticated atmospheric instruments such as lidars and radars that can provide information for detailed process studies.

* Integrate and where possible, co-locate sensors from distributed networks measuring parameters such as precipitation, atmospheric radiation, water vapour, aurora activity, ozone, chemistry/radio nuclides, fractional cloud cover, temperature, and winds. The intensive observatories will become super nodes in the network systems.

* Promote and enhance campaign activities that provide opportunities to make atmospheric measurements in logistically difficult locations, especially over the Arctic Ocean and surrounding Seas which are typically data sparse for surface-based atmospheric measurements. Examples of intensive programs include the North Pole Environmental Observatory (NPEO – EoI 436), the Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snow pack (OASIS-IPY, Activity 38), and the Arctic Summer Cloud-Ocean Study (ASCOS, EoI 212).

* Utilize and support innovative technologies, for instance unmanned aircraft such as the High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV program, automated station technologies, and wind energy technologies (CAPWE, EoI 721).

* Contribute observational products to modelling efforts such as POLARCAT (Activity 32).

* Contribute to defining the atmospheric component of larger, interdisciplinary Arctic observation coordination programs proposed for IPY such as Coordination of Observation and Monitoring of the Arctic for Assessment and Research (COMAAR – EoI 503).

The primary intention of this proposal will be to develop a legacy of continuous measurements of the Arctic atmosphere that will be combined with additional measurements from episodic, focused, campaigns. The goal will be to have sufficient understanding to determine relative contributions of natural versus anthropogenic forces in shaping the nature of the Arctic atmosphere. This activity will additionally contribute to an evaluation of the resulting impacts on the larger Arctic physical and biological system, as well as assess the impacts of Arctic atmospheric issues on global climate/weather.

A particular emphasis will be to promote and integrate the activities of about five major, intensive, and permanent, observatories. This element will be responsive to a number of international assessments (e.g. IPCC, ACIA, AMAP) and research programs (WCRP, CliC, GEWEX and SEARCH) that have recommended that multi-disciplinary super-sites be developed to collect the information needed to determine the processes and drivers of environmental Arctic change across disciplines.

An action item for this proposal will be to establish an active coordination committee that will develop plans to leverage individual efforts by information exchange, standardization of measurement practices, cooperative use of resources, and data exchanges. Scientific collaborations will be promoted between institutions, programs, and nations to produce a comprehensive understanding of the atmosphere in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.