Antarctic Weather Stations

What Are They Doing?

Mr. Beckendorf and the team worked on the Antarctic Automatic Weather Stations Project deploying, supporting, and maintaining a network of instruments that take automated weather measurements throughout the year. The data are transmitted via satellite in real-time and the sites themselves require relatively little upkeep. Since the beginning of the project in 1980, there have been approximately 100 weather stations deployed across Antarctica, largely powered through solar energy. The Antarctic Automatic Weather Stations are a very important part of many scientific projects taking place in Antarctica, as these stations provide the only weather measurements available on most parts of the continent.

Where Are They?

The research team was based out of McMurdo Station, the largest base in Antarctica. The team also had the opportunity to travel to other weather station sites outside of the McMurdo area.

Expedition Map


Campus Sights
Today was a very productive day at orientation which began at 8:30 AM. I think one of the most important aspects of the PolarTREC program is to hear comments, suggestions and hear about experiences from PolarTREC alumni. Each of the comments are designed to help each of the current PolarTREC cohort to have a fun, safe and productive experience with their expeditions. The field trips started today with a mini trip to the book store at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks book store. The layout and views of the campus are spectacular but made even more impressive with the snow. We wrapped up...
What is an AMOMFW? Since the field season has been over for several months I dropped into Madison, WI to find out what the scientists have been doing. When do they look at their data, analyze what happened in the field, plan the next field season and communicate with other scientists about their projects. Actually I didn't just drop in, they invited me to attend and give a presentation at AMOMFW. About 40 scientists from around the world attended the annual AMOMFW. There were researchers from Japan, Korea, England, Germany, Belgium, France, Australia, and the USA. For four days,...
WATIZIT WATIZIT I planned to write this final” report as I was flying north, but as you can see that didn’t happen. I am not sure which was more disorienting and surreal; last week when I arrived back in Texas and walked through the San Antonio airport and out into the darkness to catch a shuttle out to my car in the back of a flat concrete parking lot, surrounded by skyscraper mountains lit with electronic daylight. Or, a month ago walking off the C-17 into the constant daylight and onto the flat featureless McMurdo Ice Shelf with the distant blackness of the Transantarctic Mountains....
Have my room inspected, Pack everything, Haul it up the hill to be weighed, Leave half of it, Carry the other half back to my room, Wait for tomorrow's flight in the C-17. Bag Drag and Flight Notice Packed and ready to Drag Lots of dragged bags.
McMurdo Posting TIme 1-27-08 1:11 PM Central Standard Posting Time 1-26-08 6:11 PM Byrd AWS Weather Data Temperature- 5 F Wind Direction- East South East Wind Speed- 22 MPH Wind Chill- -15 F Today’s WATIZIT Picture WYIZE Why Is He Hitting The Plane With a Sledge Hammer? Our Second, and Last, Day of Flying at WAIS Divide Camp After breakfast, Jim again checks the weather data for our flight to two more weather stations. Due to cloudy weather he gives us a 70% chance of being able to land, but he says we will try it. We haul our gear down to...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

21 December 2007 to 29 January 2008
Location: Antarctica
Project Funded Title: Monitoring Automatic Weather Stations Across Antarctica

Meet the Team

Kirk Beckendorf's picture
NOAA Office of Education
Blanco, TX
United States

Kirk Beckendorf teaches middle school science in Blanco, a small rural school district in central Texas. He has taught life, earth, and physical science to middle school students in both Texas and Oregon. Mr. Beckendorf has participated on a number of research projects over the years and has worked with a variety of scientists from oceanographers to atmospheric chemists. Prior to teaching, he drove stagecoaches in Yellowstone and guided pack trips and whitewater raft trips near Denali National Park in Alaska. He has worked as a foreman and ranch hand on dairy farms in Texas and Alaska. In his spare time Mr. Beckendorf enjoys outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, fly fishing, whitewater kayaking, and blacksmithing.

Shelley Knuth's picture
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI
United States

Shelley Knuth is a researcher at the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center at the University of Wisconsin. Ms. Knuth holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Wisconsin. Ms. Knuth’s current research interests include precipitation and snow accumulation.

Jonathan Thom's picture
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI
United States

Jonathan Thom is an Associate Researcher at the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin. He received a Masters degree from the University of Wisconsin in Atmospheric Sciences. His research interests include meteorological instrumentation and polar climates. Mr. Thom has worked for the Automatic Weather Station project for seven years and has worked in Antarctica for ten seasons.

George Weidner's picture
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI
United States

George Weidner has worked on the automatic weather station program at the University of Wisconsin since 1981. During that period, he has participated in 20 field seasons in Antarctica and four field seasons in Greenland. His work includes the design, building, maintenance, and processing of data from weather stations for field programs in Antarctica, Greenland, and Peru. Mr. Weidner holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Astronomy and Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin.

Latest Comments

Hi George, such a pleasure to get to know you this week. Pretty wild research opportunity you're about to embark on! I know you're going to love it, and do an amazing job bridging the gap between...
Great job posting a photo George. I can't quite picture exactly where that is along the road but it's beautiful! Don't forget to tell us your location, and weather conditions. Curious minds want to...