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Precipitation over Greenland Retrieved by a Dynamic Method and Its Relation to Cyclonic Activity

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  • 1 Polar Meteorology Group, Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
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Abstract

In order to calculate the vertical motion over some high mountain regions, such as Greenland, an ω-equation without the quasigeostrophic approximation in σ-coordinates has been developed. A dynamic method for retrieving precipitation over Greenland is based on this ω-equation. The retrieved annual mean precipitation distribution for 1987 and 1988 is in very good agreement with the observed annual accumulation pattern over the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The major weather system producing precipitation over Greenland is the frontal cyclone. Based on the precipitation characteristics, Greenland can be divided into five subregions. Precipitation over the north coastal and central interior regions primarily occurs in summer. For the three other subregions, if the composite monthly mean sea level pressure charts for high and low monthly precipitation amounts are constructed, a clear relationship between precipitation and cyclonic activity emerges. If a mean cyclone exists in the Labrador Sea, heavy precipitation will fall over Greenland during that month. By contrast, if a mean cyclone exists near Iceland, precipitation over Greenland will be reduced. This is an important relationship between Greenland precipitation and cyclonic activity.

The cyclonic tracks near Greenland are established. A synoptic example is used to show the relation between precipitation and a cyclone moving up the west side of Greenland (track B) combined with movement across the southern tip of the island (track C). In this example, lee cyclogenesis is caused by the southern part of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The lee cyclone develops on the east coast along track C. During lee cyclogenesis, heavy precipitation falls over the southern region. The “parent” cyclone moves along track B, and precipitation falls along the west coast of Greenland.

A possible feedback between cyclonic activity and the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet is proposed. On the one hand, cyclonic activity has a significant influence on snow accumulation over the ice sheet. The development of Icelandic cyclones is not favorable for precipitation over Greenland. On the other hand, the Greenland Ice Sheet has an important dynamic effect in producing lee cyclogenesis and affecting the frequency of Icelandic cyclones. This possible feedback may be important for understanding how the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Icelandic low are maintained in the present climate state.

Corresponding author address: Qiu-shi Chen, Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University, 1090 Carmark Road, Columbus, OH 43210.

Email: qchen@polarmet1.mps.ohio-state.edu

Abstract

In order to calculate the vertical motion over some high mountain regions, such as Greenland, an ω-equation without the quasigeostrophic approximation in σ-coordinates has been developed. A dynamic method for retrieving precipitation over Greenland is based on this ω-equation. The retrieved annual mean precipitation distribution for 1987 and 1988 is in very good agreement with the observed annual accumulation pattern over the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The major weather system producing precipitation over Greenland is the frontal cyclone. Based on the precipitation characteristics, Greenland can be divided into five subregions. Precipitation over the north coastal and central interior regions primarily occurs in summer. For the three other subregions, if the composite monthly mean sea level pressure charts for high and low monthly precipitation amounts are constructed, a clear relationship between precipitation and cyclonic activity emerges. If a mean cyclone exists in the Labrador Sea, heavy precipitation will fall over Greenland during that month. By contrast, if a mean cyclone exists near Iceland, precipitation over Greenland will be reduced. This is an important relationship between Greenland precipitation and cyclonic activity.

The cyclonic tracks near Greenland are established. A synoptic example is used to show the relation between precipitation and a cyclone moving up the west side of Greenland (track B) combined with movement across the southern tip of the island (track C). In this example, lee cyclogenesis is caused by the southern part of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The lee cyclone develops on the east coast along track C. During lee cyclogenesis, heavy precipitation falls over the southern region. The “parent” cyclone moves along track B, and precipitation falls along the west coast of Greenland.

A possible feedback between cyclonic activity and the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet is proposed. On the one hand, cyclonic activity has a significant influence on snow accumulation over the ice sheet. The development of Icelandic cyclones is not favorable for precipitation over Greenland. On the other hand, the Greenland Ice Sheet has an important dynamic effect in producing lee cyclogenesis and affecting the frequency of Icelandic cyclones. This possible feedback may be important for understanding how the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Icelandic low are maintained in the present climate state.

Corresponding author address: Qiu-shi Chen, Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University, 1090 Carmark Road, Columbus, OH 43210.

Email: qchen@polarmet1.mps.ohio-state.edu

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