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ACES Research Programme

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The Antarctic Climate and the Earth System (ACES) research programme, part of the British Antarctic Survey research strategy Global Science in an Antarctic Context (GSAC) 2005–2009

Antarctic Climate and the Earth System

Principal Investigator: Dr John King

The Challenge

ACES will investigate the atmospheric and oceanic links that connect the climate of the Antarctic to that of lower latitudes, and their controlling mechanisms.

Specific research topics will include the formation and properties of Antarctic clouds, the complexities of the atmospheric boundary layer, and the importance to the global ocean circulation of cold, dense water masses generated in the Antarctic. By quantifying the role of southern polar processes in the global climate system, ACES will help improve predictions of climate change.

Iceberg bits close to Rothera Point on Adelaide Island


  • Understand the interactions between atmosphere, sea-ice and ocean at high southern latitudes
  • Develop models to aid our understanding of Antarctic regional processes and enable us to represent essential regional phenomena in global models covering both the atmosphere and the ocean
  • Determine the nature and influence of the principal connections between Antarctica and the global climate system
  • Determine the importance of water masses of Antarctic origin in the global ocean circulation
  • Determine the sensitivity of the global climate system to processes occurring or originating in the Antarctic

Relevance to Global Science

Our knowledge of the workings of the climate system is far from complete. We know that atmospheric and oceanic processes in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean influence and are influenced by global climate, but we are unsure of important details. Describing and quantifying the role of the southern polar regions in the global climate system is both important and timely.

Delivering the Results

ACES will carry out a comprehensive programme of oceanographic measurements from BAS ships in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas, and will use BAS’s instrument-carrying Twin Otter aircraft to help us study cloud microphysics and air-sea-ice interaction. We will obtain an ice core from the southwestern Antarctic Peninsula to give us a 150-year record of the strength of the circumpolar westerly winds. We will use these observations to test and improve global climate models and a new regional atmosphere-ice-ocean model for the Antarctic. ACES will link with CACHE, GRADES, GEACEP, BIOFLAME, DISCOVERY 2010, and SEC.

Component Projects

ACES-FOCAS: Forcings from the Ocean, Clouds, Atmosphere and Sea-ice
ACES-ACCENT: Antarctic Climate ChangE and Nonlinear Teleconnections