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pdf SCAR EXCOM 2011 WP12: Report on Antarctica in the Global Climate System (AGCS)

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SCAR Executive Committee Meeting
18-19 July 2011, Edinburgh, Scotland

SCAR EXCOM 2011 WP12: Report on Antarctica in the Global Climate System (AGCS)

Working Paper 12
Agenda Item: 2.4.2
Deadline: May 9
Person Responsible: Alberto

Executive Summary

Title: Antarctica in the Global Climate System (AGCS)

Authors: AGCS Steering Committee

Relevant URLs or references to other reports: - AGCS web site

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 the evaluation of the causes of the growth in Antarctic sea ice observed during the past three decades to the identification of a causal link between the changing winds over the Southern Ocean and the warming of the Antarctic Bottom Water renewing the deep layers of the global ocean. Possibly AGCS’s most significant achievement in this period has been its leading of a major review on Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE), synthesizing knowledge on past, present and possible future changes in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and their impact on the biota. The ACCE report was published in October 2009 and formally launched at a press conference in London on November 30. Copies are available at (obsolete link removed). AGCS led the preparation of a brief update on the ACCE report in 2010. This will be a regular feature, with the update being presented to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting.

Recommendations/Actions and Justification: We ask the Delegates to continue supporting AGCS for a further year so that the programme may carry its current activities in support of international Antarctic climate science to a successful conclusion and identify the scope and priorities of the next SCAR climate-focussed research programme.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes: The completion of significant advances in the study of a range of aspects of the Antarctic coupled climate system (detailed in this document) is expected from present progress. AGCS is centrally engaged in the design and implementation of the Southern Ocean Observing System, the coordination of international activities and workshops targeted at Antarctic climate science, the development of key Antarctic data sets and portals, and the planning of the next SCAR climate-focussed research programme. The success of these activities will be greatly facilitated by the requested support.

Partners: AGCS will continue to work (often in a leading role) with the SSGs and several other SRPs, the SCAR Oceanography Expert Group and the CLIVAR / CliC / SCAR Southern Ocean Implementation Panel, amongst others, to ensure that the above 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: Continued support at the current level is requested.