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New Reconstruction of Antarctic Near-Surface Temperatures: Multidecadal Trends and Reliability of Global Reanalyses

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  • 1 Polar Meteorology Group, Byrd Polar Research Center, and Atmospheric Sciences Program, Department of Geography, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
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Abstract

A reconstruction of Antarctic monthly mean near-surface temperatures spanning 1958–2012 is presented. Its primary goal is to take advantage of a recently revised key temperature record from West Antarctica (Byrd) to shed further light on multidecadal temperature changes in this region. The spatial interpolation relies on a kriging technique aided by spatiotemporal temperature covariances derived from three global reanalyses [the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim), Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), and Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)]. For 1958–2012, the reconstruction yields statistically significant annual warming in the Antarctic Peninsula and virtually all of West Antarctica, but no significant temperature change in East Antarctica. Importantly, the warming is of comparable magnitude both in central West Antarctica and in most of the peninsula, rather than concentrated either in one or the other region as previous reconstructions have suggested. The Transantarctic Mountains act for the temperature trends, as a clear dividing line between East and West Antarctica, reflecting the topographic constraint on warm air advection from the Amundsen Sea basin. The reconstruction also serves to highlight spurious changes in the 1979–2009 time series of the three reanalyses that reduces the reliability of their trends, illustrating a long-standing issue in high southern latitudes. The study concludes with an examination of the influence of the southern annular mode (SAM) on Antarctic temperature trends. The results herein suggest that the trend of the SAM toward its positive phase in austral summer and fall since the 1950s has had a statistically significant cooling effect not only in East Antarctica (as already well documented) and but also (only in fall) in West Antarctica.

Byrd Polar Research Center Contribution Number 1445.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00733.s1.

Corresponding author address: Julien Nicolas, Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University, 1090 Carmack Rd., Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail: nicolas.7@osu.edu

Abstract

A reconstruction of Antarctic monthly mean near-surface temperatures spanning 1958–2012 is presented. Its primary goal is to take advantage of a recently revised key temperature record from West Antarctica (Byrd) to shed further light on multidecadal temperature changes in this region. The spatial interpolation relies on a kriging technique aided by spatiotemporal temperature covariances derived from three global reanalyses [the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim), Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), and Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)]. For 1958–2012, the reconstruction yields statistically significant annual warming in the Antarctic Peninsula and virtually all of West Antarctica, but no significant temperature change in East Antarctica. Importantly, the warming is of comparable magnitude both in central West Antarctica and in most of the peninsula, rather than concentrated either in one or the other region as previous reconstructions have suggested. The Transantarctic Mountains act for the temperature trends, as a clear dividing line between East and West Antarctica, reflecting the topographic constraint on warm air advection from the Amundsen Sea basin. The reconstruction also serves to highlight spurious changes in the 1979–2009 time series of the three reanalyses that reduces the reliability of their trends, illustrating a long-standing issue in high southern latitudes. The study concludes with an examination of the influence of the southern annular mode (SAM) on Antarctic temperature trends. The results herein suggest that the trend of the SAM toward its positive phase in austral summer and fall since the 1950s has had a statistically significant cooling effect not only in East Antarctica (as already well documented) and but also (only in fall) in West Antarctica.

Byrd Polar Research Center Contribution Number 1445.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00733.s1.

Corresponding author address: Julien Nicolas, Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University, 1090 Carmack Rd., Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail: nicolas.7@osu.edu

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