Antarctic Meteorology Project

The National Science Foundation awarded Madison College a Major Research Instrumentation Grant to create and build the next generation automatic weather station (AWS) for extreme polar climates, particularly Antarctica.

The goal of this project is to develop, test, and deploy a new polar automatic climate and weather observing station for use in remote polar regions, particularly the Antarctic. With a more capable electronic core, the focus of the new system is to make meteorological observations with climate-level quality measurements. The new system will host a first-of-its-kind onboard calibration system for temperature observations.

Weather Station

Automatic weather stations (AWS) are used around the world to observe the weather and atmospheric conditions where people can’t always be recording the observations themselves or even just as frequently. These stations have many types of instruments to do this, including:​​

  • Anemometer (measures wind speed and direction)
  • Barometer (measures pressure)
  • Batteries
  • Communications and antenna
  • Disdrometer (measures precipitation size and speed)
  • Electronic core
  • Radiation sensor
  • Relative humidity sensor
  • Solar panel
  • Sonic ranging sensor (measures snow depth)
  • Temperature sensors

These measurements are stored and saved to be used for analysis to learn more about the weather at different locations and create climate records once there is at least 30 years worth of data.​

​The use of AWS in Antarctica is extremely helpful since there aren’t people stationed there year-round, nor are there enough people to observe over the entire continent. AWS allow us to see what it is like on the cold continent and to help forecasters predict the weather for people who are stationed in Antarctica and those who are flying so they know when it is safe to travel. The data from the weather stations also allows researchers from many different fields learn more about different aspects of the continent.​

Antartica Madison College weather station

The following publications have been written by participants of the Antarctic Meteorology Project about what they have found in their research.​

Antartica image

Real-time data from the first prototype automatic polar climate and weather station in Antarctica is available.


The three graphs show the temperature from three different sensors on the station. The bottom graph shows the thermistor’s temperature, which is the MATC sensor. It is at the same level as the “Upper” platinum resistance thermometer (PRT) while the “Lower” PRT is closer to the ground than the others. These two sensors are from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.


Archived data from the weather station can be found on the UW Madison site.


This project marks the start of the modernization of a surface weather and climate observing network of AWS across the Antarctic. It takes a team to make this happen, and coordination is taking place between​:​

  • Experienced teachers​
  • Researchers​
  • Technicians​
  • Next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) technicians​
  • Potential researchers​

​Additionally, undergraduate students are aiding in the development, testing and deployment of the AWS systems, along with reporting, data analysis, and publishing. Students involved include those in weather and climate courses intending to transfer to a four-year university as well as those pursuing electronics technician or electrical engineering technician associate degrees.

Antartica weather and climate observing station

If you are interested in taking classes related to weather and climate, take a look on the course catalog page under “Subject” select “Earth Science” to see the classes offered.

Antartica climate

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

Polar Climate & Weather Stations LogoNSF LogoNSF US Antartic Program Logo






This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OPP-1625904