National Institute of Polar Research

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Research Groups

Meteorology and Glaciology Group

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

Leader  Kumiko Goto-Azuma

Surface snow sampling at Antarctic Ice Sheet

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

Most of the fresh water on Earth exists in the polar regions in the form of snow and ice which mark these regions as vital to 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 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 oceans in the polar regions. What phenomena are taking place now? How did the global climate and environment appear in the past? 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 is conducted mainly through field observation and remote sensing. Researchers study change mechanisms of the Earth's system from sites located in these remote areas to predict the future.

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

Study of the polar cryosphere focuses on paleoenvironmental study based on ice cores from 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. Studies of ice cores from the Greenland ice sheet, located in the northern hemisphere are also important to our understanding of the global climate and environmental change mechanisms. In addition, studies of ice sheet dynamics and surface mass balance and depositional mechanisms along with interdisciplinary observations of the Arctic and Antarctic cryosphere aid in our understanding.

Study of polar oceans focuses on the formation mechanism of polynyas and Antarctic Bottom Water; sea ice growth and melt processes; the influence of sea ice on ocean structure and circulation; sea ice and climate change; the influence of fast ice and ice shelves on ocean; carbon dioxide exchange between atmosphere and ocean in the polar regions; and ocean acidification.

Sea ice observation

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

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