ALE’s meteorological department operates 7 days a week, preparing forecasts for ALE’s air operations, field parties, and visiting aircraft. Twice-daily forecasts and weather briefings are available to pilots and ground personnel stationed at Union Glacier.
Our forecasters are professional meteorologists with a wide range of experience forecasting for civil and air force aviation. They use a variety of professional instruments and tools to gather information about atmospheric conditions and to develop a precise forecast. These include information from ALE’s automatic weather stations at Union Glacier and other strategic locations; satellite images produced by a Sea Space Satellite receiver installed at Union Glacier; and products from the high resolution atmospheric model, Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS).
ALE’s automatic weather stations are a joint project between ALE, Ronald Ross, and polar66, providing weather data in a region where there would otherwise be a blank in the weather maps.
Wx7 and Wx14 are located at Union Glacier and upload three pairs of images a day, as well as providing weather data. Wx12 is fitted with a dual-lens camera to detect drifting snow across and down the blue-ice runway, as well as an ‘allsky’ camera that is used to measure cloud cover. Live images from both cameras can be monitored in real-time at Union Glacier Camp, via a dedicated wifi link using a browser.
Wx11 is situated high up on the Skytrain ice-rise, 50 miles (80 km) from Union Glacier Camp. It sends a constant stream of images and weather data to our meteorologist’s laptop and is used to monitor low cloud and fog that tends to build in the Weddell Sea in late December and early January and can affect flight operations.
Wx8 (pictured above), at Thiels Corner, is the furthest south of any ALE weather station. It is situated half-way to the South Pole and provides real-time photos and data for our South Pole flights.