On the Role of the Antarctic Continent in Forcing Large-Scale Circulations in the High Southern Latitudes

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
  • | 2 Polar Meteorology Group, Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
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Abstract

The Antarctic topography and attendant katabatic wind regime appear to play a key role in the climate of the high southern latitudes. During the nonsummer months, persistent and often times intense katabatic winds occur in the lowest few hundred meters of the Antarctic atmosphere. These slope flows transport significant amounts of cold air northward and thereby modify the horizontal pressure field over the high southern latitudes. Three-year seasonal cycle numerical simulations using the NCAR Community Climate Model Version 1 (CCM1) with and without representation of the Antarctic orography were performed to explore the role of the elevated terrain and drainage flows on the distribution and evolution of the horizontal pressure field. The katabatic wind regime is an important part of a clearly defined mean meridional circulation in the high southern latitudes. The position and intensity of the attendant sea level low pressure belt appears to be tied to the Antarctic orography. The seasonal movement of mass in the high southern latitudes is therefore constrained by the presence of the Antarctic ice sheet. The semiannual oscillation of pressure over Antarctica and the high southern latitudes is well depicted in the CCMI only when the Antarctic orography is included.

Abstract

The Antarctic topography and attendant katabatic wind regime appear to play a key role in the climate of the high southern latitudes. During the nonsummer months, persistent and often times intense katabatic winds occur in the lowest few hundred meters of the Antarctic atmosphere. These slope flows transport significant amounts of cold air northward and thereby modify the horizontal pressure field over the high southern latitudes. Three-year seasonal cycle numerical simulations using the NCAR Community Climate Model Version 1 (CCM1) with and without representation of the Antarctic orography were performed to explore the role of the elevated terrain and drainage flows on the distribution and evolution of the horizontal pressure field. The katabatic wind regime is an important part of a clearly defined mean meridional circulation in the high southern latitudes. The position and intensity of the attendant sea level low pressure belt appears to be tied to the Antarctic orography. The seasonal movement of mass in the high southern latitudes is therefore constrained by the presence of the Antarctic ice sheet. The semiannual oscillation of pressure over Antarctica and the high southern latitudes is well depicted in the CCMI only when the Antarctic orography is included.

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