AGCS is a cross-disciplinary science programme that focuses on the atmospheric, oceanic and cryospheric linkages between the Antarctic and the rest of the Earth system. It uses a very wide range of observations from the Antarctic continent and the Southern Ocean to investigate natural climate variability and possible anthropogenic signatures of change.
The bi-annual AGCS meeting was held on Sunday 1st August as part of the SCAR business meetings in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The meeting was chaired by Prof John Turner (British Antarctic Survey, UK) in the absence of the AGCS chair Dr. Alberto C. Naveira Garabato (National Oceanography Centre, UK) and the AGCS secretary Dr. Nancy Bertler (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand).
The meeting was attended by Dr Tas van Ommen (Principal Research Scientist, Australian Antarctic Division), Prof. Dato' Dr. Azizan Bin Hj Abu Samah (University of Malaya), Prof Dr Günther Heinemann (Trier, Germany), Dr. Cunde Xiao, (Chinese Meteorological Administration) and Dr Liz Thomas (APECS representative, British Antarctic Survey, UK). Many of the committee members were unable to attend the SCAR business meetings and as such much of the discussions have taken place via email.
The meeting highlighted some of the AGCS achievements which include:
1. The AGCS led Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE) document, synthesizing knowledge on past, present and possible future changes in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and their impact on the biota. It was published in October 2009 and formally launched at a press conference in London in November. The ACCE document was presented by Prof Turner during one of the keynote addresses at the SCAR open science conference. You can download this great resource at http://www.scar.org/publications/occasionals/acce.html.
2. A new assessment of the changes in Antarctic sea ice in recent decades, published in Geophysical Research Letters, showing a growth in Antarctic sea ice during the past 30 years (Turner et al. 2009).
3. An analysis of four decades of oceanographic observations in the Drake Passage region, showing interdecadal warming and freshening of mode and intermediate water masses detected across large sectors of the Southern Ocean (Naveira Garabato et al., 2009).
4. Evidence from an East Antarctic ice core indicating a link between drought conditions in Western Australia and increased snowfall in Antarctica. Nature Geoscience by van Ommen et al. (2010).
5. A collection of articles in Deep-Sea Research II discussing the development of novel regional empirical relationships between ice thickness and satellite-derived snow freeboard, and their application to IceSAT altimetry.
The main agenda item at the meeting was establishing a new programme planning group to replace the current AGCS programme that ends on 2012. The proposed programme is called Past and Future Change of the Antarctic Environment (PACE) and aims to deliver greater insight into the natural variability of the Antarctic climate system. It will embrace meteorology, oceanography, paleoclimatology and cryospheric sciences (sea ice, the ice sheet) in order to better understand the responses of the climate system to natural and anthropogenic forcing factors and lead to improved regional predictions of key elements of the atmosphere, ocean and cryosphere. The proposal was presented to the Scientific Standing group on Physical sciences during the business meetings and submitted to the SCAR delegates for consideration.
During the meeting the AGCS committee reaffirmed its support of early career researchers through its partnership with APECS. AGCS contributed to the SCAR travel grants for early career researchers and provided financial assistance to the AGCS APECS representative.
During the SCAR Open Science Conference that followed the business meeting the AGCS hosted session 42- Antarctic climate history of the past 200 years. The session was chaired by AGCS committee members Dr Tas Van Ommen and co-chaired by APECS representative Liz Thomas. The session was extremely well attended with the majority of oral presentations given by early career and APECS members, including the two keynote talks. These presentations were so great that our very own Ryan Fogt (APECS rep to the SCAR SSG for Physcial Sciences) was awarded the best oral presentation - Congratuations Ryan!