Winner of a “Synergy Grant” from the European Research Council, the AWACA project (Atmospheric WAter Cycle over Antarctica: past, present & future) focuses on understanding the water cycle atmosphere in Antarctica through a campaign of unprecedented measurements. This work will allow among other things, to correctly simulate the accumulation of snow on the Antarctic ice sheet, therefore its mass balance, which is for example essential to determine the future evolution of the ocean level.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESSES ANTARCTIC WEATHER TO FORECAST THE EVOLUTION OF THE CLIMATE
AWACA brings together a team of researchers who will work on understanding the atmospheric branch of the water cycle in Antarctica. The aim is to better understand the processes that govern the meteorology of this region of the Earth in order to predict
future climate change. To do this, a set of autonomous platforms will be deployed along a 1,100 kilometer transect, from the French base Dumont d’Urville, on the coast, to the Franco-Italian base Concordia, on the high plateau of the continent.
These platforms will be equipped with different types of measuring instruments that will allow study the formation and fate of snowflakes. Isotopic analyzes will be carried out in order to trace the phase changes of water in the atmosphere (gas, liquid,
solid). From this isotopic analysis will result a series of information on past climate variations through core drilling of ice. The measurements will be carried out in all seasons, which constitutes a major challenge given the
conditions extreme weather in Antarctica. This set of collected data is necessary to obtain a better representation of physical processes in numerical climate models and to refine future climate projections.
The project, which receives funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement no. 951596 – AWACA), will start on September 1, 2021 for a period of 6 years. The first two years will revolve around the development and acquisition of the instruments necessary for the collection of field data. The measurement campaign will begin from December 2023. Then the data analysis phase. Once validated, they will be used to parameterize physical processes in order to take their effects into account in climate models. Thanks to its approach combining models and data, AWACA will make it possible to reconstruct the variability of the climate and the water cycle atmospheric Antarctica over the last 1000 years, and to predict this variability for the 100 coming years.