Solar radiation is both absorbed and reflected by the atmosphere. The balance between these processes plays a key role in determining atmospheric temperature. Clouds can act as both a blanket for the earth’s surface or as a shield, reflecting radiation back to space. Our understanding of clouds and radiation in the unique Antarctic environment is critical to global weather and climate forecasting.
Moving towards Antarctica, the temperature and pressure changes. This change drives atmospheric motions, otherwise known as the wind. These motions impact global weather and climate systems, affecting people all around the world.
Atmospheric motions can impact remote parts of the atmosphere and radically change temperatures. They do this through waves bigger than weather systems or as small as local landforms. Expanding our knowledge of winds and waves on small and large scales is important for studies of weather and climate.
The Earth’s atmosphere extends above us hundreds of kilometres to the edge of space. Its physical properties and composition change dramatically over that distance. Atmospheric regions can be classified by the change in temperature with height. Each region ends in ‘sphere’. The lowermost — where our weather occurs — is called the troposphere and is the one most familiar to us. However, the entire column of atmosphere above Antarctica connects to the global atmosphere. This is a focus of Antarctic research.