SURFEIT

SURface FluxEs In AnTarctica (SURFEIT)

Start date
1 July, 2022
End date
31 March, 2026

About

Surface Fluxes in Antarctica (SURFEIT) is a BAS National Capability International research programme. Its primary aims are to bring together relevant members of the international scientific community and increase our understanding of how exchange of mass and energy between the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet and the atmosphere impacts sea level rise.

Background 

The protection of coastlines around the world from the inevitable future rise in sea level requires accurate projections of ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet. These projections are used by the international community to choose among the different emission and adaptation strategies that are still within reach of industry, government, and coastal planners. Currently, there is an enormous spread between the best- and worse-case predictions of Antarctic ice loss. This in part because while polar research is by nature an internationally collaborative endeavour, large quantities of data produced through international programmes are underutilised.

Our scientific vision for SURFEIT is therefore to develop a new international community to increase our understanding of how the snow and ice life cycle affect Antarctic mass balance and sea level rise.

Diagram
Schematic illustrating SURFEIT structure and work packages.

How will changes in Antarctic surface fluxes impact global sea-level to 2100, and beyond?  

This is the fundamental question that SURFEIT seeks to answer through three complimentary approaches:

  1. Building a new research community linking BAS’s National Capability scientists with their international partners.
  2. Using new and existing measurements to develop numerical models and data infrastructure.
  3. Applying these new capabilities to address fundamental challenges in the calculation of surface fluxes across Antarctica and their subsequent impacts on global sea level.

Science objectives

In taking these approaches, SURFEIT will also seek to achieve several key scientific objectives:

  • To develop, implement, and evaluate missing polar aerosol-cloud processes in the UKESM earth system model: This will be the first-time aerosol from sea ice, alongside key sea ice flux processes, have been included in the UKESM model. This yields an opportunity to assess their surface flux impacts.
  • To assess the key uncertainties in atmospheric climate models and reanalyse products for Antarctica: Surface mass balance changes derived from these products currently cause a large uncertainty on the projection of Antarctic-derived sea level rise.
  • To investigate and characterise how changes in atmospheric circulation variability will impact Antarctic surface fluxes over the coming century: An improved physical understanding of flux changes and drivers is necessary to ensure confidence in our future Antarctic projections.
  • To develop improved projections of ice mass changes due to iceshelf hydrofracture, and other surface flux driven processes: Ice fracture may drive the bulk of Antarctic ice loss after 2100, so improving these projections may be the most significant objective of our programme.

Beyond these objectives, SURFEIT aims to grow a new international community. This aim will be supported by engagement and exchange with the wider international research community.

Ocean with floating sea ice, with a snowy mountain in the background
Antarctic sea ice. Photo: BAS

Planned activities

Special sessions and discussion groups with key figures in the research sector are planned to facilitate knowledge exchange and bring together the international research community. In addition, exchange with key policy stakeholders will also be managed via appropriate routes and material. Wider knowledge integration and media outreach will be achieved via our development of a project website and associated social media presence with the support of BAS’s highly respected Communications Team who will promote the importance and relevance of SURFEIT.

SURFEIT primarily aims to grow a new international community that works collaboratively on our key question: How will changes in Antarctic surface fluxes impact global sea-level to 2100, and beyond? We also seek to achieve several key scientific objectives:

  • To develop, implement, and evaluate missing polar aerosol-cloud processes in the UKESM earth system model: This will be the first-time aerosol from sea ice, alongside key sea ice flux processes, have been included in the UKESM model. This yields an opportunity to assess their surface flux impacts.
  • To assess the key uncertainties in atmospheric climate models and reanalyse products for Antarctica: Surface mass balance changes derived from these products currently cause a large uncertainty on the projection of Antarctic-derived sea level rise.
  • To investigate and characterise how changes in atmospheric circulation variability will impact Antarctic surface fluxes over the coming century: An improved physical understanding of flux changes and drivers is necessary to ensure confidence in our future Antarctic projections.
  • To develop improved projections of ice mass changes due to iceshelf hydrofracture, and other surface flux driven processes: Ice fracture may drive the bulk of Antarctic ice loss after 2100, so improving these projections may be the most significant objective of our programme.

Project partners for SURFEIT include:

  • Dr Gunnar Spreen, University of Bremen, Germany.
  • Dr Priscilla Mooney, NORCE, Norway.
  • Assistant Prof  Rachel Chang, Dalhousie University, Canada.
  • Dr Jennie Thomas, IGE, Grenoble, France.
  • Prof Lyatt Jaeglé, University of Washington, USA.
  • Dr Ronny Engelmann, TROPOS, Germany.
  • Dr Camille Risi and Dr Jean-Baptiste Ladant, LSCE, France.
  • Dr Hans Christian Steen-Larsen, University of Bergen Norway.
  • Dr Mathieu Casado, CNRM, France.
  • Dr Martin Werner, AWI, Germany.
  • Dr Richard Wood & Dr Jeff Ridley, MetOffice, UK.
  • Prof Michiel van den Broeke, Utrecht University, Netherlands.
  • Dr Kari Luojus, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland.
  • Dr Patrick Martineau, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).
  • Dr Irina Gorodetskaya, Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), Portugal.
  • Prof Seong-Joong Kim, KOPRI, Republic of Korea.
  • Prof Ryan Fogt, Ohio University, USA.
  • Dr Kyle Clem, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Dr Pranay Seshadri, Equadratures (founder and lead), UK.
  • Dr Ravindra Duddu, Vanderbilt University, USA..
  • Dr Sammie Buzzard, Cardiff University.
  • Dr Emilio Martínez-Pañeda. Imperial College London.
  • Dr Alison Banwell, University of Colorado, USA.
  • Prof Jonathan Kingslake, Columbia University, USA.
  • Prof Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK.