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Dominant Regimes of the Ross Ice Shelf Surface Wind Field during Austral Autumn 2005

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
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Abstract

An analysis of the surface wind field across the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, is conducted for austral autumn 2005. The airflow is divided into dominant wind regimes identifying similar wind patterns and the associated typical atmospheric forcing. The results of previous research and a seasonal analysis of the recently expanded network of automatic weather stations in the Ross Ice Shelf region are used to define the dominant wind regimes. Events composing each wind regime are identified by matching wind speed and wind direction observations at several automatic weather station sites for durations of at least 10 h. The four different dominant wind regimes are barrier wind, strong katabatic, weak katabatic, and light wind. Each wind regime is studied through the use of wind rose plots and sea level pressure fields from the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System. The sea level pressure fields are used to characterize the forcing of the surface wind field by synoptic pressure gradients. The four dominant wind regimes result in classifying less than 50% of the total hours for austral autumn 2005. The results indicate that previous studies of the Ross Ice Shelf surface wind field, focusing on katabatic winds and barrier winds, represent less than one-half of the observed winds. This study provides a better understanding of the composition of the surface wind field in Antarctica and more insight into the characteristics of the Ross Ice Shelf airstream.

Corresponding author address: Mark W. Seefeldt, 216 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309. Email: seefeldm@cires.colorado.edu

Abstract

An analysis of the surface wind field across the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, is conducted for austral autumn 2005. The airflow is divided into dominant wind regimes identifying similar wind patterns and the associated typical atmospheric forcing. The results of previous research and a seasonal analysis of the recently expanded network of automatic weather stations in the Ross Ice Shelf region are used to define the dominant wind regimes. Events composing each wind regime are identified by matching wind speed and wind direction observations at several automatic weather station sites for durations of at least 10 h. The four different dominant wind regimes are barrier wind, strong katabatic, weak katabatic, and light wind. Each wind regime is studied through the use of wind rose plots and sea level pressure fields from the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System. The sea level pressure fields are used to characterize the forcing of the surface wind field by synoptic pressure gradients. The four dominant wind regimes result in classifying less than 50% of the total hours for austral autumn 2005. The results indicate that previous studies of the Ross Ice Shelf surface wind field, focusing on katabatic winds and barrier winds, represent less than one-half of the observed winds. This study provides a better understanding of the composition of the surface wind field in Antarctica and more insight into the characteristics of the Ross Ice Shelf airstream.

Corresponding author address: Mark W. Seefeldt, 216 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309. Email: seefeldm@cires.colorado.edu

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