National Institute of Polar Research

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Meteorology and Glaciology Group

We study the climate and environmental system of the Earth from the polar regions

Leader  Hideaki MOTOYAMA

Surface snow sampling at Antarctic Ice Sheet

Climate change in the polar regions: past, present and future

Most of the fresh water on the Earth exists in the polar regions in the form of snow and ice. These regions also play an important role in the global water cycle and sea level changes. The sea ice area undergoes considerable seasonal fluctuations, and sea ice contributes to the exchange of heat and energy between the atmosphere and the ocean.
The Polar Meteorology and Glaciology Group conducts research on topics from the fields of atmospheric science, meteorology, glaciology, sea ice, oceanography, and paleoclimatology; in particular, the group studies the atmosphere (i.e., the troposphere and stratosphere), cryosphere, and ocean in the polar regions. What phenomena are taking place now? How did the global climate and environment appear in the past? Studies on change mechanisms of the Earth’s system to clarify the future are conducted mainly by field observation and remote sensing. In Antarctica, in particular, the influence of human activity is extremely low. Therefore, changes in the Earth’s systems can be studied from this remote area.

Research for clarifying phenomena and mechanisms of the atmosphere in polar regions: atmosphere and aerosols; trace gases; geochemical and water circulation; radiation property of aerosols; the influence of aerosols on climate; radiation budget; continuous observation of the greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane in the polar regions; and surface and aerological observations.

Study of the polar cryosphere: paleoenvironmental study based on ice cores of ice sheets and glaciers (for example, two deep ice cores at Dome Fuji, Antarctica, provided in-depth information on global environment change over the past 720,000 years). An ice core study of the Greenland ice sheet, located in the northern hemisphere is important for understanding the global climate and environmental change mechanisms. In addition, study of ice sheet dynamics and surface mass balance and depositional mechanisms along with interdisciplinary observations of the Arctic and Antarctic cryosphere are being conducted.
Study of polar oceans: the formation mechanism of polynyas and Antarctic deep sea water; sea ice growth and melt processes; and the influence of sea ice on marine structure and circulation, sea ice and climate change, carbon dioxide exchange between the atmosphere and ocean in the polar regions, and the acidity of sea water.

Sea ice observation

Atmospheric observation above the Antarctic ice sheet with unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and tethered balloon

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