Because of their wide range of applications, Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) play a crucial role in modern Antarctic climate research. Since 1995, the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) has successfully operated AWS at nine Antarctic sites in Dronning Maud Land and on Berkner Island. Apart from the 'standard' meteorological variables pressure, temperature and wind, these AWS also measure humidity, shortwave and longwave radiation, snow temperatures at five depths and snow accumulation. This has yielded unique datasets of climate and mass balance of the various Antarctic climate zones (coastal, katabatic and interior).
During the International Polar Year (IPY, 2007-2009), several ground traverses will penetrate the remote interior plateau of East Antarctica to search (among other things) for the oldest ice chronology on Earth. One of those traverses will connect the Norwegian Troll station to Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, via the former Plateau station and the pole of inaccessibility. This offers a unique opportunity to extend the present operational area of IMAU AWS to the deep interior ice sheet. In this project we design and build two AWS with low temperature specifications for installation along this IPY traverse, and one prototype for testing at Kohnen station. We plan for these AWS to be installed at the site of former Plateau station and on the interior slope of west Dronning Maud Land, an area that is meteorologically unexplored. The AWS will be left unattended for a period of 3-5 years, relaying their data to Utrecht through the ARGOS system.