Overview

Overview of the research project

Research goals and objectives
In our project, we will target East Antarctica. Taking advantage of our foresight, we will combine in-situ monitoring with model research. We will also clarify the actual state, the elementary processes of their fluctuations and interactions of the Antarctic Bottom Water, Circumpolar Current, ecosystems, ice sheets, and the solid Earth in Antarctica and its surrounding areas.
In particular, we aim to reconstruct the past of the Southern Ocean, Antarctic climate and ice sheet variability. We also aim to elucidate the interaction between the Antarctic ice sheet and ocean, and variability of ecosystem dynamics.

We will build an environmental system model of East Antarctica, which has been a missing piece. We will try to clarify a role of the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic ice sheet in the global environmental change and its mechanism through different interactions.
Our research project is expected to have a ripple effect on many fields such as future projection of climate and social influence.
The following items have important significance from an interdisciplinary perspective: (1) integration of simulation with a multi-level numerical model and in-situ monitoring data; (2) in-situ monitoring conducting beyond each field; and (3) development of unmanned exploration technologies.

On the basis of the results achieved in this project, we will also build a foundation for the development of international collaborative research starting from Japan by collaborating with other countries studying East Antarctica.

Research Group

Summary of the research

Research item A01: The Southern Ocean as a reservoir of heat and materials and its variation

A01 consists of the following research plans: (1) A01-1 “Circulation dynamics of heat, freshwater, and material originating from Antarctic Bottom Water”; (2) A01-2 “Paleoclimate dynamics of the Southern Ocean”; and (3) A01-3 “Ecosystem dynamics in the Antarctic sea ice zone”.

From the viewpoint of the Southern Ocean as a reservoir of heat and materials, we  will elucidate the interaction processes among the atmosphere, ice sheet, sea ice and ocean in the boundary areas of the sea ice and ice sheet, through the observation of physical oceanography, chemistry, biology, and geology. We will also clarify the variation of the ocean circulation, material cycles, and ecosystem dynamics from past to present.

A01-1 Circulation dynamics of heat, freshwater, and material originating from Antarctic Bottom Water
A01-2 Paleoclimate dynamics of the Southern Ocean
A01-3 Ecosystem dynamics in the Antarctic sea ice zone

Research item A02: Reservoirs of water and heat, the Antarctic ice sheet and its variation

A02 consists of A02-1 “Variation and interaction of the Antarctic ice sheet and climate” and A02-2 “Interaction between the solid Earth and the Antarctic ice sheet”.

From the viewpoint of the Antarctic ice sheet as water and heat reservoir, we will conduct geodetic, geophysical and glaciological observe to reveal the flow of ice sheets, surface mass balance.  We will also analyze ice cores with the aim of elucidating the relation between the characteristics of the Antarctic climate as the CO2 reservoir and the global changes over the past several million years to the present day. In addition, we aim at revealing the response of solid Earth related to the Antarctic ice sheet changes as well.

A02-1 Variations and interactions of climate and the Antarctic Ice Sheet
A02-2 Interaction of the solid Earth and the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Research item A03: Challenges for unexplored frontiers

We will acquire observation data that may bring a breakthrough in our studies using new observation devices in unexplored areas.  In particular, we aim to obtain data of temperature, salinity, and topographic features using unmanned aerial vehicles and a year-round observation device beneath the sea ice.
Using unmanned aerial vehicles over the ices and rocks will allow us to make a large-area mapping of the shapes and landforms of glaciers.  We will introduce new methods of research observation across different fields to enhance coordination with each research group.

A03 Challenges for unexplored frontiers

Research item A04: Integrative modeling of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, ocean, and climate

We aim to develop models of Ice Sheet- Ocean interactions and analyze variability of the Southern Ocean, material circulation, and variation factors of the Antarctic climate by numerical experiments.
We will develop models and conduct several numerical experiments independently. At the same time, we will promote integrated research by combining in-situ observations and experiments in A01 and A2 by providing feedback about our result.

A04 Integrative modeling of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, ocean, and climate

Members

X01 General Group

A01-1 Circulation dynamics of heat, freshwater, and material originating from Antarctic Bottom Water

Targeting East Antarctic region that has been a missing piece of abyssal circulation, we will quantify the formation, circulation, and variation of the Antarctic Bottom Water and the accompanying material cycles, including the influence of the melting ice shelves, based on in-situ observations.

A01-2 Paleoclimate dynamics of the Southern Ocean

Combining paleoenvironmental data with in-situ observation data, we will reconstruct dynamics of the ocean circulation and sea ice over the past few million years to elucidate the current state of the interaction between the Southern Ocean and the global climate change.

A01-3 Ecosystem dynamics in the Antarctic sea ice zone

Using research vessels, mooring and drifting systems, we will clarify the ecosystem structure and its dynamics in the seasonal sea ice zone. We will also try to evaluate the influence of the sea-ice variability on marine ecosystems and material circulation in East Antarctica.

A02-1 Variations and interactions of climate and the Antarctic Ice Sheet

We analyze ice cores and perform in-situ/satellite observations to investigate the variations of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and climate in the past and present. We collaborate with climate and ice sheet modelers for better understanding of the interactions of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and climate.

A02-2 Interaction of the solid Earth and the Antarctic Ice Sheet

We will improve the accuracy of the Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA) model by conducting precise geodetic observations, geomorphological and geological surveys, and analyzing satellite data. We will also reveal the ice sheet mass balance from past to present

A03 Challenges for unexplored frontiers

We will develop unmanned exploration vehicle technologies to elucidate unknown areas such as the topographic features beneath the ice shelves and the characteristics of seawater, and in order to establish the base. Meanwhile, we aim to measure the surface shape of the Antarctic sea ice, glaciers, and land areas in high resolution using unmanned aerial vehicles.

A04 Integrative modeling of the Antarctic Ice sheet,  ocean, and climate

We will use multi-level modeling such as atmosphere, the ocean, and ice sheets and conduct an analysis of data by integrating from precise in-situ observation data. We aim to understand the interaction of the Antarctic and global climate change and comprehend the details of the Antarctic “tipping point”.

Researchers

Contact

Office at National Institute of Polar Research

10-3 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo 190-8518, JAPAN

TEL: +81-42-512-0711

E-mail: office@grantarctic.jp