The Year of Polar Prediction in the Southern Hemisphere had a Special Observing Period (SOP) during the 2018-2019 austral summer. Activities during and resulting from the Antarctic SOP are described.
The Year of Polar Prediction in the Southern Hemisphere (YOPP-SH) had a Special Observing Period (SOP) that ran from November 16, 2018 to February 15, 2019, a period chosen to span the austral warm season months of greatest operational activity in the Antarctic. Some 2200 additional radiosondes were launched during the 3-month SOP, roughly doubling the routine program, and the network of drifting buoys in the Southern Ocean was enhanced. An evaluation of global model forecasts during the SOP and using its data has confirmed that extratropical Southern Hemisphere forecast skill lags behind that in the Northern Hemisphere with the contrast being greatest between the southern and northern polar regions. Reflecting the application of the SOP data, early results from observing system experiments show that the additional radiosondes yield the greatest forecast improvement for deep cyclones near the Antarctic coast. The SOP data have been applied to provide insights on an atmospheric river event during the YOPP-SH SOP that presented a challenging forecast and that impacted southern South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. YOPP-SH data have also been applied in that seasonal predictions by coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice models struggle to capture the spatial and temporal characteristics of the Antarctic sea ice minimum. Education, outreach, and communication activities have supported the YOPP-SH SOP efforts. Based on the success of this Antarctic summer YOPP-SH SOP, a winter YOPP-SH SOP is being organized to support explorations of Antarctic atmospheric predictability in the austral cold season when the southern sea-ice cover is rapidly expanding.