Funded by:MINECO (Retos 2015)
Duration:Jan 2016 – Dec. 2018

Project Description

Aerosols, Clouds and Water Vapor in Polar Regions: emphasis in nocturnal photometry

Funded by: MINECO, Desarrollo e Innovación Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad, call 2015.
Participant institutions: Universidad de Valladolid, Agencia Estatal de Meteorología, Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Principal investigators: V.E. Cachorro and C. Toledano

The determination of atmospheric components in Polar regions, which is essential for improving our knowledge on climate change and its impact on such areas, has some peculiarities, derived from the obvious geographical considerations, that make it more difficult to accomplish than in other regions. In particular, the standard solar photometry used by the AERONET network is not applicable during the long Polar nights in which the Sun as light source is not available.
There exists a new generation of photometers that can also use the Moon as light source, currently at the beginning of its implementation in AERONET. These are expected to solve (at least partially) the existing gaps in the ground-based remote sensing datasets during the Polar winter. Long term data series are the only tool to provide data to allow investigating trends and climatology as necessary steps to understand the phenomena. Aerosol studies in the Arctic point out the marked seasonality as well as the intrusion of long-range transported polluted air masses as major characteristics. In Antarctica, the low aerosol concentrations and extreme ambient conditions during the Polar night constitute a huge experimental challenge.
Within this frame, our proposal is aimed at: a) Starting long-term data sets, including Polar night periods, of atmospheric components such as aerosols, clouds and water vapor in the atmospheric column, by adding new capacity to existing stations: ALOMAR-Andenes (Norway), Ny-Ålesund (Svalbard) and Marambio (Antarctic Peninsula). The access to these facilities is possible thanks to a long collaboration with the host institutions. b) Obtaining a wide set of properties of these atmospheric components by developing and applying novel algorithms. These retrievals constitute an innovative method, such as those related to all-sky cameras for deriving cloud cover and other cloud and aerosol optical properties in combination with photometry. Inversion algorithms like GRASP will allow deriving aerosol properties from different co-located instruments. Moreover, we will carry out evaluations of the direct radiative forcing for these components. c) Validating different satellite products concerning aerosol, cloud and water vapor properties. This is of great importance due to the complexity of deriving such properties from space in Polar Regions.
Overall, this project will complement the existing instrumentation for atmospheric observation at several stations located in both in the Arctic and Antarctica, by deploying state-of-the-art photometers which, in conjunction with other instruments and described methodology, represent an innovative and ambitious proposal to make science in Polar regions. This is an obligation and a challenge to which Spain is committed as member of the Antarctic Treaty as well as Observer Member of the Arctic Council and contributor to the different working groups of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

The support by MINECO (CTM2015-66742-R) is gratefully acknowledged.