The National Science Foundation awarded Madison College a Major Research Instrumentation Grant to create and build the next-generation automatic weather station (AWS) for extreme polar climates, particularly Antarctica. 

The goal of this project is to develop, test, and deploy a new polar automatic climate and weather observing station for use in remote polar regions, particularly the Antarctic.  

With a more capable electronic core, the focus of the new system is to make meteorological observations with climate-level quality measurements. The new system will host a first-of-its-kind onboard calibration system for temperature observations. 

National Science Foundation Logo
Antarctica Weather Station with Madison College banner

Automatic Weather Station 

Automatic weather stations (AWS) are used around the world to observe and record the weather and atmospheric conditions. They are especially helpful in Antarctica because there aren’t people stationed there year-round, nor are there enough people to observe the entire continent. These stations have many types of instruments including:​​ 

  • Anemometer (measures wind speed and direction). 
  • Barometer (measures pressure). 
  • Batteries. 
  • Communications and antenna. 
  • Disdrometer (measures precipitation size and speed). 
  • Electronic core. 
  • Radiation sensor. 
  • Relative humidity sensor. 
  • Solar panels. 
  • Sonic ranging sensor (measures snow depth). 
  • Temperature sensors. 

These measurements are stored and saved to be used for analysis to learn more about the weather at different locations and create climate records once there is at least 30 years’ worth of data.​ 

AWS allows us to see what it is like on the cold continent and to help forecasters predict the weather for people who are stationed in Antarctica and those who are flying so they know when it is safe to travel. The data from the weather stations also allows researchers from many different fields to learn more about different aspects of the continent.​ 

Who Can Join? 

This project marks the start of the modernization of a surface weather and climate observing network of AWS across the Antarctic. It takes a team to make this happen, and coordination is taking place between​:​ 

  • Experienced teachers.​ 
  • Researchers.​ 
  • Technicians​. 
  • Next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) technicians​. 
  • Potential researchers​. 

​Undergraduate students are aiding in the development, testing, and deployment of the AWS systems, along with reporting, data analysis, and publishing.  

Students involved include those in weather and climate courses intending to transfer to a four-year university as well as those pursuing electronics technician or electrical engineering technician associate degrees. 


The following publications have been written by participants of the Antarctic Meteorology Project about what they have found in their research.​ 

Cody, T, 2019: Sarah Polar Climate & Weather Station: A Technical Report. Department of Physical Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Madison Area Technical College. 6 pp. 

Cody, T. A., M.A. Lazzara, and L.J. Welhouse; 2019: MATC MRI AWS Temperature Case Studies. Department of Physical Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Madison Area Technical College. 9 pp. 

Norton, T. P., 2018: Antarctic Extremes: Support for the Next Generation Automatic Polar Weather and Climate Station. School of Arts and Sciences, Madison Area Technical College, 9 pp 


Find archived uncorrected data from the Polar Climate and Weather Stations:

Staff member working on the Antarctica weather station


Do you have a question about the Antarctica project? Reach out to Matthew Lazzara at