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SCAR XXXII WP16: Final Report of Antarctica in the Global Climate System (AGCS) Popular

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XXXII SCAR Delegates Meeting
23-25 July 2012, Portland Oregon, USA

SCAR XXXII WP16: Final Report of Antarctica in the Global Climate System (AGCS)

Working Paper 16
Agenda Item: 5.3.2
Posted/Revised: June 14
Person Responsible: Garabato

Executive Summary

Title: Antarctica in the Global Climate System (AGCS)

Authors: AGCS Steering Committee

Introduction/ Background: 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 in situ meteorological and oceanic observations provide high quality data for recent decades, but these are supplements with proxy data from deep and shallow ice cores that extend the records back into the pre-instrumental period. The programme also uses a range of satellite data and the output of climate and numerical weather prediction models to investigate the mechanisms of change and how climate signals are transferred to and from mid-latitudes and the tropics to the Antarctic. Our focus is on climate change over roughly the last 10,000 years, although we work closely with the ACE programme, which is looking deeper into the past.

Important Issues or Factors: AGCS has produced several important scientific highlights in the last two years (see this document), ranging from major advances in the understanding of Antarctic clouds to significant new insights into how turbulent flows shape the climatically key Southern Ocean overturning circulation. AGCS has produced regular annual updates to the ACCE report. In June 2011, AGCS organized a 3-day symposium in Melbourne to review our current state of understanding of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean climate system, to identify the major gaps in present knowledge, and to lay out the scientific issues that a future climate-focussed SRP must address to maximize scientific progress and societal impact. AGCS has continued to strongly support symposia and data management activities focused on Antarctic climate science.

Recommendations/Actions and Justification: AGCS is coming to an end in 2012. We ask the Delegates to consider supporting the AGCS-sparked proposal of a new climate-related SRP (AntClim21) focussed on the understanding and prediction of how the Antarctic environment will change over the 21st century.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes:  The adoption of AGCS’s recommendation will lead to improved projections and mechanistic understanding of the magnitude and patterns of change to Antarctica’s physical environment and of the likely consequences for biological ecosystems over the next century (see AntClim21 SRP proposal for further details).

Partners: In its final year, AGCS will continue to work (often in a leading role) with the SSGs and several other SRPs, the Southern Ocean Observing System Steering Committee, and the CLIVAR / CliC / SCAR Southern Ocean Implementation Panel, amongst others, to ensure that AGCS-sponsored research and associated activities are carried out to a successful conclusion. AGCS will continue to support the development of the next generation of Antarctic scientists via its close association with APECS.

Budget Implications: No support is requested further to the present allocation for 2012.