Major Cloud Plumes in the Arctic and Their Relation to Fronts and Ice Movement

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  • 1 Naval Oceanographic and Atmospheric Research Laboratory, Monterey, California
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Abstract

A study of the movement of orographic cloud plumes from one island to another in the Svalbard-Novaya Zemlya region of the Barents Sea revealed a close association with similar movements of arctic fronts. Strong northerly winds behind arctic fronts, moving southward from over the ice into the Barents Sea, cause a rapid movement of the leading edge of the marginal ice zone (MIZ) in a similar southward direction, opening up many leads and polynyas in the process. This paper shows examples illustrating the effect as documented by Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) high-resolution picture transmission (HRPT) satellite data. It is worth noting that, despite clear satellite evidence of the movement of two strong arctic fronts into the Barents Sea over a 4-day period, neither American nor Norwegian operational surface analyses were drawn especially well to reflect these events. The study emphasizes the need for forecasters to have ready access to near real-time, high-resolution, satellite imagery over the region on a frequent basis in order to forecast properly the movement of fronts and associated movement of the ice edge toward open waters to the south.

Abstract

A study of the movement of orographic cloud plumes from one island to another in the Svalbard-Novaya Zemlya region of the Barents Sea revealed a close association with similar movements of arctic fronts. Strong northerly winds behind arctic fronts, moving southward from over the ice into the Barents Sea, cause a rapid movement of the leading edge of the marginal ice zone (MIZ) in a similar southward direction, opening up many leads and polynyas in the process. This paper shows examples illustrating the effect as documented by Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) high-resolution picture transmission (HRPT) satellite data. It is worth noting that, despite clear satellite evidence of the movement of two strong arctic fronts into the Barents Sea over a 4-day period, neither American nor Norwegian operational surface analyses were drawn especially well to reflect these events. The study emphasizes the need for forecasters to have ready access to near real-time, high-resolution, satellite imagery over the region on a frequent basis in order to forecast properly the movement of fronts and associated movement of the ice edge toward open waters to the south.

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