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REference Antarctic Data for Environmental Research

READER (REference Antarctic Data for Environmental Research) is a project of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR http://www.scar.org/) and has the goal of creating a high quality, long term dataset of mean surface and upper air meteorological measurements from in-situ Antarctic observing systems. These data will be of value in climate research and climate change investigations.


The primary sources of data are the Antarctic research stations and automatic weather stations. Data from mobile platforms, such as ships and drifting buoys are not being collected since our goal is to derive time series of data at fixed locations.

Surface and upper air data are being collected and the principal statistics derived are monthly and annual means. Daily data will not be provided in order to keep the data set to a manageable size. With the resources available to the project, it is clearly not possible to collect all the information that could be required by the whole range of investigations into change in the Antarctic. Instead a key set of meteorological variables (surface temperature, mean sea level pressure and surface wind speed, and upper air temperature, geopotential height and wind speed at standard levels) are being assembled and a definitive set of measurements presented for use by researchers.

A lot of stations have been operated in the Antarctic over the years; many for quite short periods. However, our goal here is to provide information on the long time series that can provide insight into change in the Antarctic. So to be included, the record from a station must extend for 25 years, although not necessarily in a continuous period, or be currently in operation and have operated for the last 10 years. In READER we have chosen to use only data from year-round stations.

It is important when using mean data to know the number of observations that were used in computing the means. As discussed in the data section, the READER mean monthly values are therefore colour coded to indicate the percentage of possible observations used in computing each mean.

Metadata are being provided, where possible, to indicate the type of observing systems used to make the measurements, changes of observing site, changes of observing practice etc. The structure of the metadata is deliberately flexible and will vary considerable between stations, depending on what information is available.

The READER data set is available on the data tab. The data consists primarily of means computed from observations from the station operators where available, with subsequent means computed from GTS data. The data set is updated on a regular basis.

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Steve Colwell

Head of Meteorology and Ozone monitoring

Atmosphere, Ice and Climate team