Portable/Field Testing

Sensors Used in Antarctic Climate-Change Research

Nov 09 2016 Comments 0

Sensors from leading meteorological specialists, Biral (UK), are currently being used as part of a research mission in Antarctica, headed by a French research group.

The APRES3 campaign is a long term project with the aim of measuring precipitation in Antarctica, as well as monitoring climate change to understand the effect this has on the ice sheets. Biral’s VPF-730 Visibility and Present Weather Sensors form a part of an extensive range of equipment being used by the group, to help draw conclusions on the rate at which snow falls on the surface of Antarctica.

The group recognised the difficulty of measuring solid precipitation, given the extreme conditions and locations of the research, and therefore has deployed instruments, including Biral’s VPF-730, to receive the measurements at the French Antarctic Stations. They then use the measurements to calibrate and validate snow fall estimates by satellite and improve the building of climate models. It is these models that allow the group to generate better predictions over a century time scale and estimate the impact of climate on the sea-level.

The experiment takes place at the French station, Dumont d’Urville and is supported by the French Polar Institute (IPEV), French National Science Foundation (ANR), and French Space Agency (CNES).

Christophe Genthon, Research Scientist at the Laboratory of Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics commented, “The project uses Biral’s VPF-730 to measure in situ snow fall and blowing snow, and help us to differentiate the two. We hope that this will improve our knowledge and understanding of precipitation and blowing snow in Antarctica, which is the only continent where precipitation is still largely unknown because it is so difficult to measure. We found Biral’s design to be particularly rugged which is ideal for this project due to the extreme conditions.”

Biral’s VPF-730 Visibility and Present Weather Sensors are designed to deliver high levels of accuracy, reliability and durability for a range of meteorological applications. The sensors come in a compact, robust package that is highly corrosion resistant with a hard coat anodised finish, making it particularly suitable for applications, like the Antarctic or offshore platforms, which see challenging weather conditions.

The sensors are designed with an open sensor head to allow the free passage of air to improve the accuracy of measurements, with the ability to receive measurements within a 10m to 75km range. The sensors also use a backscatter receiver to help distinguish frozen from liquid precipitation. 

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