In support of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Byrd Polar Research Center of The Ohio State University have created the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS): an experimental, real-time mesoscale modeling system covering Antarctica. AMPS has been designed to serve flight forecasters at McMurdo Station, to support science and operations around the continent, and to be a vehicle for the development of physical parameterizations suitable for polar regions. Since 2000, AMPS has been producing high-resolution forecasts (grids to 3.3 km) with the “Polar MM5,” a version of the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University-NCAR Mesoscale Model tuned for the polar atmosphere. Beyond its basic mission of serving the USAP flight forecasters at McMurdo, AMPS has assisted both in emergency operations to save lives and in programs to explore the extreme polar environment. The former have included a medical evacuation from the South Pole and a marine rescue from the continental margin. The latter have included scientific field campaigns and the daily activities of international Antarctic forecasters and researchers. The AMPS program has been a success in terms of advancing polar mesoscale NWP, serving critical logistical operations of the USAP, and, most visibly, assisting in emergency rescue missions to save lives. The history and performance of AMPS are described and the successes of this unique real-time mesoscale modeling system in crisis support are detailed.

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National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Charleston, South Carolina

*Byrd Polar Research Center Contribution Number 1276