Antarctica’s role in understanding long-term change in the upper atmosphere
Within the global context, Antarctica has a key role to play in understanding long-term change in the upper atmosphere, both because of its isolation from the rest of the world and because of its unique geophysical attributes. Antarctic upper atmosphere data can provide global change observations regarding the mesosphere, thermosphere, ionosphere, plasmasphere and magnetosphere. It will not only provide trend estimates but, just as importantly, it will define the background variability which exists in the upper atmosphere and against which these trends must be resolved. Upper atmospheric change can be driven both from within the Earth''s near environment primarily through changing atmospheric composition, dynamics or geomagnetic field, or it can be driven externally, predominantly by the Sun. Recent observations are discussed in the light of increasing interest in global change issues and sun-weather relationships.