Atmosphere, Ice and Climate team

Our ambition

The polar atmosphere-ocean-sea-ice system is highly-coupled and interconnected. Our overriding vision is to understand processes that drive this system and assess responses to our changing world. More robust predictions of the polar system, and how it links globally, are critical for guiding future climate policy decisions. While we focus primarily on the polar regions, we also address associated global questions that are best probed at lower latitudes.

British Antarctic Survey scientist Ted Maksym studies an ice core taken through first year sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea during the JR240 ICEBell cruise on RRS James Clark Ross (seen in the background
BAS scientist studies an ice core taken through first year sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea.

Our research groups investigate (i) climate variability, change and predictability, with primary emphasis on high latitudes and altitudes; (ii) physical processes that control the polar atmosphere and sea ice, including cloud processes, and (iii) chemical processes that control composition of the polar atmosphere, their climate interactions, and how they link to the interpretation of ice core records. Additionally, the team is responsible for maintaining long-term observations of weather, climate and atmospheric composition at our research stations and from a number of remote sites.

Team priorities

Science

  • Determine patterns of change and variability in the high-latitude atmosphere. Optimise the use and analysis of sustained, long-term observations of meteorology and composition.
  • Atmosphere-ocean-sea ice interactions. Explore the ways in which the polar atmosphere interacts with the polar oceans, cryosphere, upper atmosphere and the global climate system.
  • Climate and atmospheric composition. Carry out targeted studies (using both observations and models) of key processes that control polar climate and atmospheric composition, including atmosphere-ocean-sea ice interaction, sea-ice dynamics, clouds, aerosols, waves and turbulence.
  • Determine the causes of climate change in the polar regions. To what degree can observed change be attributed to human forcings (greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone depletion), natural forcings (e.g. volcanic aerosols, solar variability) and internal variability (“chaos”)?
  • Reduce uncertainty in predictions of polar and global climate and atmospheric composition through improved representation of polar processes in atmospheric, climate and earth system models.
  • Apply our polar expertise and assets to address crucial global questions that are best probed at lower latitudes.

Technology, innovation and training

  • Use state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation, as well as BAS’s unique polar platforms (airborne and ground-based), to achieve science priorities
  • Exploit novel autonomous platforms and instrumentation to open up new possibilities for observations.
  • Develop and apply cutting-edge numerical models and data analysis techniques to solve defined science questions.
  • Train the next generation of polar atmospheric scientists to tackle key questions in the future.
  • Maintain a suite of meteorological and atmospheric chemistry equipment to deliver long-term observations for climate/composition research. Train personnel on the operation and maintenance of this equipment to ensure the best data quality.

 Influencing and leading international programmes

  • Collaborate with leading UK and international research teams to tackle high impact science questions and drive the research agenda
  • Take a leading role in the planning and implementation of polar science programmes through organisations such as the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, the World Climate Research Programme and the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Contribute sustained observations to World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) programmes, such as the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) and the Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW). Develop sustained observations at BAS stations to meet the requirements of these programmes

 Stakeholder engagement

  • Produce briefings on policy-relevant science for UK government departments.
  • Work with the UK Met Office to determine priorities for meteorological observations in British Antarctic Territory
  • Collaborate with instrument manufacturers to develop the systems that we need to deliver our science

 Public engagement

  • Disseminate our findings, published in the highest-impact journals, through presentations in leading national and international forums
  • Participate in BAS media and public engagement programmes and support our early career scientists in their public engagement activities

 

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Clare Allen

Regional Climate Change Modeller

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Tom Andersson

Data Scientist

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Thomas Bracegirdle

Atmospheric and Climate Scientist

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Anna Clark

PhD Student

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Steve Colwell

Head of Meteorology and Ozone monitoring

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Joshua Eveson

Antarctic Atmospheric Scientist

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Anita Faul

Data Scientist

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James France

Atmospheric Scientist

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Markus Frey

Atmospheric & Glaciochemist

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Caroline Holmes

Polar Climate Scientist

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Scott Hosking

Environmental Data Scientist

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Anna Jones

Science Leader - Senior Tropospheric Chemist

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John King

Senior Atmospheric Scientist

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Amelie Kirchgaessner

Atmospheric Scientist

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Thomas Lachlan-Cope

Group Leader Climate Processes

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Hua Lu

Atmospheric Scientist: Stratosphere/Troposhere Coupling

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Gareth Marshall

Senior Climatologist

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Tracy Moffat-Griffin

Deputy Science Leader - Atmospheric Scientist VC

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Andrew Orr

Climate Physicist

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Tony Phillips

Climate Model Data and Analysis Software Manager

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Charles Simpson

Environmental Data Scientist

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John Turner

Variability Climatologist

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Risa Ueno

PhD Student

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Alexandra Weiss

Atmospheric Scientist

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Jeremy Wilkinson

Sea Ice Physicist

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Xin Yang

Atmospheric Chemistry Modeller

Southern Ocean Carbon

The Southern Ocean is one of the most important and poorly understood components of the global carbon cycle that profoundly shapes Earth’s climate. It is the primary hot spot for …



Iceland Greenland seas Project

PI: Ian Renfrew (University of East Anglia) CO-I’s: Tom Bracegirdle, Tom Lachlan-Cope, Alexandra Weiss PDRA’s: Andrew Elvidge (University of East Anglia), James Pope NERC Grant: NE/N009924/1 Project Partners: Robert Pickart …


ANGWIN

ANGWIN is now a SCAR action group.  See the proposal that was presented at the Polar 2018 conference here: SCAR_Proposal.pdf ANGWIN (in the Cornish English dialect ANGWIN means “the white”) …

Microphysics of Antarctic Clouds NE

Introduction and Background The largest uncertainties in future climate predictions highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC 2007) arise from our lack of knowledge of the interaction of …

Meteorology and Ozone Monitoring

Long-term meteorological and ozone observations and data help determine the causes of climate change in the polar regions. Meteorology Meteorological observations are made regularly throughout the day at Halley and …

MASE

Mars Analogues for Space Exploration


Blowing snow and sea ice

The source of sea salt aerosols in the polar regions appears to be linked to sea ice surfaces, but exact details are unclear. Defining the sources is important given the …

ABSCISSA Arctic Sea-Ice-Zone Blowing Snow

The source of sea-salt aerosols in the Polar Regions appears to be linked to sea ice surfaces, but exact details are unclear. Defining the sources is important given the critical …


ICE-ARC

physicists, chemists, biologists, economists, and sociologists from 21 institutes in 11 countries across Europe assess the rapid retreat and collapse of Arctic sea-ice cover

ISOL-ICE

PI: Markus M. Frey Co-I’s: X. Yang, R. Mulvaney NERC Grant: NE/N011813/1 The ozone layer shields all land-based life forms from harmful ultraviolet radiation; and indirectly influences the climate at …



Record warming at the South Pole

29 June, 2020

The South Pole has warmed at over three times the global rate since 1989, according to a paper published in Nature Climate Change today (29 June 2020). This warming period was …


Antarctic sea ice loss explained in new study

17 June, 2020

Scientists have discovered that summer sea ice in the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica has decreased by one million square kilometres – an area twice the size of Spain – …



Arctic under spotlight at World Economic Forum

20 January, 2020

A team of Arctic scientists – including British Antarctic Survey (BAS) climate scientist Dr Jeremy Wilkinson – are hosting their fourth Arctic Basecamp in Davos this week (20-24 January) at …



Scientists to study methane emissions in North Sea

23 April, 2019

Scientists embark on a three-week flying campaign today (23 April) to study methane emissions from gas fields in the southern North Sea. Using specialised scientific equipment, on board one of …




FEATURED PAPER: Himalayan winds

16 January, 2019

Around one billion people depend on water resources originating from the Hindu-Kush Karakoram Himalayan region, attributable to both rainfall and melting of snow and ice. The wind in the valleys …




World Ozone Day – 16th September

16 September, 2018

The 2018 ozone hole began forming in late August and won’t reach its largest for over a fortnight.  Already it covers most of the Antarctic continent, an area of 14 …




FEATURED PAPER: Record temperature at Signy

19 February, 2018

On 30th January 1982, a record high temperature of +19.8°C was measured at Signy Research Station – a record for any station south of 60°S. In this paper, we examined …









FEATURED PAPER: Antarctic cloud physics

7 April, 2017

Observations were made of clouds over the Antarctic Peninsula during the summer of 2010 and 2011 using one the BAS Twin Otter aircraft fitted with a range of atmospheric instruments. …


Signy Island is hottest place in the Antarctic

1 March, 2017

A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) committee of experts announces this week (Wed 1 March) new records for the highest temperatures recorded in the Antarctic Region. The results are part of …


Antarctic sea ice extent lowest on record

16 February, 2017

This year the extent of summer sea ice in the Antarctic is the lowest on record. The Antarctic sea ice minimum marks the day – typically towards end of February …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Working on the Polar Plateau

15 January, 2017

A new blog post from a team comprising polar atmosphere and ice chemist Holly Winton, analytical chemist Rebecca Tuckwell and atmospheric and glaciochemist Markus Frey who are working on the …


BLOG: Arriving at the Polar plateau

13 January, 2017

A new blog post from atmospheric and glaciochemist Markus Frey who’s just arrived on the Polar plateau as part of the ISOL-ice research project. Read the team’s earlier post here. …




A recent pause in Antarctic Peninsula warming

20 July, 2016

The rapid warming of the Antarctic Peninsula, which occurred from the early-1950s to the late 1990s, has paused. Stabilisation of the ozone hole along with natural climate variability were significant in bringing about the change. Together these influences have now caused the northern part of the peninsula to enter a temporary cooling phase. Temperatures remain higher than measured during the middle of the 20th Century and glacial retreat is still taking place. However, scientists predict that if greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise at the current rate, temperatures will increase across the Antarctic Peninsula by several degrees Centigrade by the end of this century.



Carbon dioxide level breached at Halley VI

16 June, 2016

Levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere – which is the leading driver of recent climate change – have reached a milestone at British Antarctic Survey’s …



FEATURED PAPER: Polar Vortex teleconnection

26 January, 2016

This paper provides new evidence and proposes a new dynamical mechanism for the teleconnection between the two largest jet streams in the northern winter stratosphere – the tropical wind system …



NEWS STORY: Arctic sea ice 2015

17 September, 2015

Arctic sea ice 2015 On September 11, the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) reported that Arctic sea ice reached its likely minimum extent for 2015. The minimum ice …




NEWS STORY: Polar ice cores reveal volcanic eruptions

8 July, 2015

Polar ice cores reveal volcanic eruptions that changed human history Researchers find new evidence that large eruptions were responsible for cold temperature extremes recorded since early Roman times A freshly …


NEWS STORY: Ozone hole 30th anniversary

11 May, 2015

30th Anniversary of the Discovery of Ozone Hole This week British Antarctic Survey (BAS) commemorates the 30th anniversary of one of its most important scientific discoveries that affected the world …


NEWS STORY: Live link to the Arctic

1 May, 2015

Digital Explorer launches virtual adventure on the ice at the UK Arctic Research Station The British Antarctic Survey is proud to support Digital Explorer’s second visit to the UK Arctic …


PRESS RELEASE: Mapping the ice from below

24 November, 2014

Underwater robot sheds new light on Antarctic sea ice The first detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice have been developed using an underwater robot. Scientists from the UK, …


NEWS STORY: BAS to host workshop

13 October, 2014

British Antarctic Survey hosts Chemical Air-Snow-Sea Ice Interaction workshop in Cambridge More than 60 scientists from over 15 countries are attending a workshop in Cambridge this week (13-15 October) to …


NEWS STORY: Sea ice minimum explained

18 September, 2014

Arctic sea ice summer minimum 2014: A scientific perspective The Arctic sea ice minimum marks the day – typically in September – when sea ice reaches its smallest extent at …


NEWS STORY: World Ozone Day

16 September, 2014

Today, 16 September, is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. The date commemorates the signing of the Montreal Protocol, which sought to reduce atmospheric levels of …


NEWS STORY: Icebergs leave their mark

16 June, 2014

Climate related iceberg activity has massively altered life on the seabed Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey have found evidence that climate change has fundamentally altered the way that life …


NEWS STORY: Arctic sea ice trends

13 February, 2014

British Antarctic Survey coordinates Arctic sea-ice investigation Arctic sea-ice cover is retreating at an unprecedented rate. Scientists fear we may see the complete loss of sea ice during the summer …


NEWS STORY: World’s coldest place identified

12 December, 2013

Scientists working at the United States National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said this week they have identified the coldest place on Earth using satellite observations of surface temperature. …



NEWS STORY: Tributes to ozone hole expert

13 May, 2013

It is with great sadness the British Antarctic Survey reports that Joe Farman died on Saturday 11 May 2013. He was 82. Joseph Charles Farman CBE, together with colleagues Brian …


NEWS STORY: Halley VI awarded new status

7 May, 2013

Halley VI receives environmental science status upgrade The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI research station has attained Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Global station status. …


NEWS STORY: Storm events link identified

17 April, 2013

Jet stream influences extreme storms A new study of Europe’s extreme storm events reveals that they often occur near  the jet stream – the fast flowing air currents that flow …


PRESS RELEASE: Summer melt season extending

28 March, 2013

Summer melt season is getting longer on the Antarctic Peninsula, new data show New research from the Antarctic Peninsula shows that the summer melt season has been getting longer over …


PRESS RELEASE: Air flows explain record low

11 January, 2010

New research sheds light on Earth”s coldest temperatures Results from the first detailed analysis of the lowest ever temperature recorded on the Earth’s surface can explain why it got so …


PRESS RELEASE: Warmer spells detected in ice cores

18 November, 2009

Mysteriously warm times in Antarctica A new study of Antarctica’s past climate reveals that temperatures during the warm periods between ice ages (interglacials) may have been higher than previously thought. …


PRESS RELEASE: Rise in CO2 emissions

17 November, 2009

Fossil fuel CO2 emissions up by 29 per cent since 2000 The strongest evidence yet that the rise in atmospheric CO2 emissions continues to outstrip the ability of the world’s …



PRESS RELEASE: Increase in CO2 emissions

26 September, 2008

CO2 emissions are booming Scientists will this week (Friday 26 Sept) announce the annual update on the global carbon figures. They report that CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels and …



MOSAiC Blog: Approaching RV Polarstern

26 February, 2020 by Markus Frey

Dr Markus Frey is on board Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, making the final approach through the Arctic sea ice to join the MOSAiC expedition on board RV Polarstern. German research icebreaker RV Polarstern is staying …


MOSAiC Blog: Storm on the Barents Sea

3 February, 2020 by Markus Frey

Dr Markus Frey is on board Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, waiting for a weather window to make the journey north to join the MOSAiC expedition on board RV Polarstern. German …


MOSAiC Blog: Sea ice rescue training

29 January, 2020 by Markus Frey

Atmosphere and ice climate scientist Dr Markus Frey is on his way to join the MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) expedition. Markus will be using …




AI for Environmental Sciences

21 July, 2019 by Rachel Furner

Rachel Furner is a PhD student at British Antarctic Survey, which has recently opened up its new AI Lab, that aims to foster the application of various machine learning (and …




ANTARCTIC BLOG: Working on the Polar Plateau

7 February, 2017 by Markus Frey

Ice core drilling is a large complex operation to firstly get the equipment out into the field, assemble it, drill intact columns of ice and then process the collected ice for analysis. Markus Frey explains.





ARCTIC BLOG: Setting foot back on land

27 March, 2015 by Markus Frey

Diary entry: Friday 27 March 2015 Time: 2200 hrs UTC Position: 78° 13′ N / 15° 33′ E Air Temperature: +1.5 °C Wind Speed: 8 knots We made it! After 38 days onboard the …


ARCTIC BLOG: Total solar eclipse

20 March, 2015 by Markus Frey

Diary entry: Friday 20 March 2015 Time: 1200 hrs UTC Position: 81° 44.23′ N / 19° 36.9′ E Air Temperature: −27.4 °C Wind Speed: 14 knots Nature is displaying a magnificent and …


ARCTIC BLOG: Enduring an Arctic storm

18 March, 2015 by Markus Frey

Diary entry: Wednesday 18 March 2015 Time: 2237 hrs UTC Position: 82° 34.7′ N / 22° 43.6′ E Air Temperature: −32.6 °C Wind Speed: 12 knots The storm lasted not even 48 hours, …