This is the first of five articles on the IASC Working Groups. This month is dedicated to the IASC Atmosphere Working Group. Read on to find out more about its members, scientific foci, future activities, and much more.

Who are the AWG Members?
The Atmosphere Working Group (AWG) has 40 members from 23 countries, including three IASC fellows. Our individual expertise encompasses a wide range of topics, also featured on our members’ webpage, including atmosphere dynamics, climate dynamics, polar meteorology, and much more.

Our Scientific Scope & Pillars
With the benefit of the AWG’s diverse background in expertise, we decided to define our scientific scope to include research towards understanding and prediction of Arctic change, where we identified five core topics:

  • Clouds, Water Vapor, Aerosols, Fluxes
  • Arctic Air Pollution
  • Coupled Arctic climate system
  • Arctic Weather extremes
  • Linkages (two way): Role of the Arctic in the global climate system

These topics have been put under the three pillars of 1) MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate), 2) PACES (air Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment and Societies), and 3) YOPP/PPP (Year of Polar Prediction/Polar Prediction Project). The AWG Work Plan summarizes these foci and pillars, as well as our plans for the upcoming years.

Two of the main pillars of the AWG, MOSAiC and PACES, are firmly rooted in the AWG and MOSAiC was in fact born out of the AWG. More recently, the AWG started to engage with the Polar Prediction Project’s Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP). The AWG established a task force for this new venture, which consist of Thomas Spengler (AWG chair), Kent Moore, and AWG fellow Manisha Ganeshan, who had several exchanges with the PPP office over the recent months. The main idea for AWG was to facilitate exchange among the many science projects that are endorsed by YOPP. Hence, the AWG, together with the PPP office, is now organising a YOPP science workshop, which will be held in January 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. Further and more detailed announcements of the workshop will be in March 2018. Please contact Thomas Spengler if you would like to know more about the AWG’s engagement with YOPP.

MOSAiC, an IASC Flagship
After the initiation of MOSAiC within the AWG, the AWG team then worked hard to turn it into a cross-cutting IASC activity and it thereafter became an IASC flagship. MOSAiC is a great example of a bottom up development from a core of scientist in the AWG up to becoming an IASC flagship. The MOSAiC drift is now scheduled to start in fall 2019 and has as its priority to better understand how the coupled Arctic climate system functions, in particular under rapid Arctic climate change that will not only affect the local Arctic climate, but might also be affecting hemispheric circulation patterns and global change. The main aim is to improve our modelling capabilities via improved process understanding leading to better parameterisations. With such a grand vision based on the extensive and unique field work that focuses on the coupled climate system, this is a once in a generation opportunity for Arctic science to attain extremely valuable in situ observations and then jointly work on these data in an extraordinary and international consortium. For further details, please contact Anja Sommerfeld.

PACES: Natural and Social Sciences Together to Assess Atmospheric Pollution in the Arctic
PACES’s focus on atmospheric pollution in the Arctic, and its roles in Arctic climate change and in harmful effects on communities and ecosystems is jointly sponsored by IGAC and IASC. A workshop is being planned under a PACES initiative called ALPACA (The ALaskan Pollution and Chemical Analysis), for May 2018 in Fairbanks, Alaska. This will bring together experts from atmospheric chemistry, meteorology, health, policy, and social sciences to develop plans for new measurements and modelling centred on Fairbanks, as an illustration city for studying these issues around local pollution. The ALPACA workshop is jointly sponsored by an IASC cross-cutting initiative between the Atmosphere, Terrestrial, and Social & Human WGs. PACES has also been moving forward with new activities targeted at better understanding the role of mid-latitude emissions of short-lived climate forcers on Arctic climate. Planning is underway for development of a large multi-platform field experiment called IMPAACT. This project is designed to observe atmospheric transport and processing of pollution from Asia towards the Northern Pacific and Arctic, with a focus on reducing uncertainties in key model processes that reduce our confidence in assessing SLCF influences on Arctic climate. If you are interested in finding out more about PACES activities please contact Stephen Arnold, PACES co-chair and AWG vice chair.

Supporting the Arctic Scientific Community & Upcoming Activities
The main AWG vehicle for supporting the scientific community is through the organization and support of meetings, workshops, and schools. The last year has been a very active one for the AWG with two workshops associated with MOSAiC and PACES, respectively, as well as one workshop on Arctic mid-latitude linkages.

There are also several upcoming activities organized and supported by the AWG, such as the 14th Polar Low Workshop in Trier, Germany, and the Polar Prediction School 2018 in Abisko, Sweden. In addition, there will be PACES activities in 2018 organized by the AWG. On top of the three pillars of the AWG, which are all cross-cutting, the AWG also engages additional cross-cutting activities within IASC, such as sea ice prediction and snow processes.

Three Pillars of the AWG with a timeline for 2018-2021

Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate

5/2018 Science workshop
Spring/2019 Implementation meeting
Fall/2019-Fall/2020 MOSAiC drift
2021 Science conference

Air Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment and Societies

 5/2018 - Workshop on local Arctic air pollution
2019-2020 – potential ground-based campaigns
2020-2021 - IMPAACT

Year of Polar Prediction/Polar Prediction Project

1/2019 Science workshop
Mid/2019 End of YOPP
Mid/2020 YOPP conference

Get in touch!

Arctic scientists should feel free to get in touch with one of the AWG experts in any specific field of interest. Remember, you do NOT have to be a working group member to submit ideas and proposals or get Working Group funding . Furthermore, if you are from an IASC member country, you can use your country’s delegate in the AWG to raise questions and propose ideas.