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Salvatore Pascale
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Sarah B. Kapnick
, and
Honghai Zhang

Abstract

The Angola low is a summertime low pressure system that affects the convergence of low-level moisture fluxes into southern Africa. Interannual variations of the Angola low reduce the seasonal prediction skills for this region that arise from coupled atmosphere–ocean variability. Despite its importance, the interannual dynamics of the Angola low, and its relationship with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and other coupled modes of variability, are still poorly understood, mostly because of the scarcity of atmospheric data and short-term duration of atmospheric reanalyses in the region. To bypass this issue, we use a long-term (3500 year) run from a 50-km-resolution global coupled model capable of simulating the summertime southern African large-scale circulation and teleconnections. We find that the meridional displacement and strength of the Angola low are moderately modulated by local sea surface temperature anomalies, especially those in proximity of the southeastern African coast, and to a lesser extent by ENSO and the subtropical Indian Ocean dipole. Comparison of the coupled run with a 1000-yr run driven by climatological sea surface temperatures reveals that the interannual excursions of the Angola low are in both cases associated with geopotential height anomalies over the southern Atlantic and Indian Ocean related to extratropical atmospheric variability. Midlatitude atmospheric variability explains almost 60% of the variance of the Angola low variability in the uncoupled run, but only 20% in the coupled run. Therefore, while the Angola low appears to be intrinsically controlled by atmospheric extratropical variability, the interference of the atmospheric response forced by sea surface temperature anomalies weakens this influence.

Full access
Boutheina Oueslati
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Vincent Moron
,
Sandra Rome
, and
Serge Janicot

Abstract

Great effort is made to address heat waves (HWs) in developed countries because of their devastating impacts on society, economy, and environment. However, HWs are still understudied over developing countries. This is particularly true in West Africa, and especially in the Sahel, where temperatures recurrently reach critical values, such as during the 2010 HW event in the western Sahel. This work aims at characterizing the Sahelian HWs during boreal spring seasons (April–May–June) and understanding the mechanisms associated with such extreme events. Over the last three decades, Sahelian HWs have been becoming more frequent, lasting longer, covering larger areas, and reaching higher intensities. The physical mechanisms associated with HWs are examined to assess the respective roles of atmospheric dynamics and radiative and turbulent fluxes by analyzing the surface energy budget. Results suggest that the greenhouse effect of water vapor is the main driver of HWs in the western Sahel, increasing minimum temperatures by enhanced downward longwave radiation. Atmospheric circulation plays an important role in sustaining these warm anomalies by advecting moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and the Guinean coasts into the Sahel. Maximum temperature anomalies are mostly explained by increased downward shortwave radiation due to a reduction in cloud cover. Interannual variability of HWs is affected by the delayed impact of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with anomalous temperature warming following warm ENSO events, resulting from an amplified water vapor feedback.

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Clémence Macron
,
Yves Richard
,
Thomas Garot
,
Miloud Bessafi
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Adolphe Ratiarison
, and
Andrianaharimanana Razafindrabe

Abstract

Using daily rain gauge records for Madagascar and nearby islands, this paper investigates rainfall intraseasonal variability at local and regional scales during the austral summer season (November–February), as well as the respective influences of recurrent convective regimes over the southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The results show a general consistency between local-scale rainfall variability in Madagascar and regional-scale features of climate variability. The influence of tropical temperate troughs in their mature phase and/or their easternmost locations is first underlined. The development of such systems over southern Africa and the Mozambique Channel can be considered as precursors for Malagasy wet spells, especially over the southern part of the island. Regional and local effects of the MJO are weaker on average, and only concern the northwest of the island and the north of the Mozambique Channel. MJO and convective regimes are finally shown to explain distinct fractions of regional rainfall variability.

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Benjamin Pohl
,
Andrew Lorrey
,
Andrew Sturman
,
Hervé Quénol
,
James Renwick
,
Nicolas Fauchereau
, and
Julien Pergaud

Abstract

This paper introduces a set of descriptors applied to weather regimes that allow for a detailed monitoring of the location and intensity of their atmospheric centers of action (e.g., troughs and ridges) and the gradients between them, when applicable. Descriptors are designed to document the effect of climate variability and change in modulating the character of daily weather regimes, rather than merely their occurrence statistics. As a case study, the methodology is applied to Aotearoa New Zealand (ANZ), using ERA5 ensemble reanalysis data for the period 1979–2019. Here, we analyze teleconnections between the regimes and their descriptors and large-scale climate variability. Results show a significant modulation of centers of action by the phase of the southern annular mode, with a strong relationship identified with the latitude of atmospheric ridges. Significant associations with El Niño–Southern Oscillation are also identified. Modes of large-scale variability have a stronger influence on the regimes’ intrinsic features than their occurrence. This demonstrates the usefulness of such descriptors, which help explain the relationship between midlatitude transient perturbations and large-scale modes of climate variability. In future research, this methodological framework will be applied to analyze (i) low-frequency changes in weather regimes under climate change, in line with the southward shift of storm tracks, and (ii) regional-scale effects on the climate of ANZ, resulting from interaction with its topography.

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Shunya Koseki
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
Bhuwan Chandra Bhatt
,
Noel Keenlyside
, and
Arielle Stela Nkwinkwa Njouodo

Abstract

Adopting a state-of-the-art numerical model system, we investigate how the diurnal variations in precipitation and local breeze systems are characterized by lower-boundary conditions related to the Drakensberg highland and warm SST associated with the Agulhas Current. A control simulation can simulate the hydrometeorological climates in the region realistically, but the terrestrial rainfall is overestimated. During daytime, the precipitation is confined to the Drakensberg highland, and there is an onshore local breeze, while during midnight to morning, the rainfall is confined to the Agulhas Current, and the breeze is offshore. These variations are captured by the numerical simulation, although the timing of maximum rainfall is early over the land and delayed over the ocean. The sensitivity experiment in which the Drakensberg is absent shows a drastic modification in the diurnal variations over land and ocean. The terrestrial precipitation is largely decreased around the Drakensberg and is largest along the coast during daytime. The nocturnal marine precipitation along the Agulhas Current is also reduced. Although the daily residual breeze is still pronounced even without the Drakensberg, wind speed is weakened. We attribute this to the reduction of precipitation. In another sensitivity experiment with smoothened warm SST due to the Agulhas Current, the amplitudes of diurnal variations are not modified remarkably, but the coastal rainfall is diminished to some extent due to less evaporation along the Agulhas Current. This study concludes that the Drakensberg plays a crucial role for the diurnal cycle, and the impact of the Agulhas Current is limited on the diurnal cycle of the coastal precipitation in this region.

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Benjamin Pohl
,
Thomas Saucède
,
Vincent Favier
,
Julien Pergaud
,
Deborah Verfaillie
,
Jean-Pierre Féral
,
Ylber Krasniqi
, and
Yves Richard

Abstract

Daily weather regimes are defined around the Kerguelen Islands (Southern Ocean) on the basis of daily 500-hPa geopotential height anomalies derived from the ERA5 ensemble reanalysis over the period 1979–2018. Ten regimes are retained as significant. Their occurrences are highly consistent across reanalysis ensemble members. Regimes show weak seasonality and nonsignificant long-term trends in their occurrences. Their sequences are usually short (1–3 days), with extreme persistence values above 10 days. Seasonal regime frequency is mostly driven by the phase of the southern annular mode over Antarctica, midlatitude dynamics over the Southern Ocean such as the Pacific–South American mode, and, to a lesser extent, tropical variability, with significant but weaker relationships with El Niño–Southern Oscillation. At the local scale over the Kerguelen Islands, regimes have a strong influence on measured atmospheric and oceanic variables, including minimum and maximum air temperature, mostly driven by horizontal advections, seawater temperature recorded 5 m below the surface, wind speed, and sea level pressure. Relationships are weaker for precipitation amounts. Regimes also modify regional contrasts between observational sites in Kerguelen, highlighting strong exposure contrasts. The regimes allow us to improve our understanding of weather and climate variability and interactions in this region; they will be used in future work to assess past and projected long-term circulation changes in the southern midlatitudes.

Full access
Jonathan D. Wille
,
Simon P. Alexander
,
Charles Amory
,
Rebecca Baiman
,
Léonard Barthélemy
,
Dana M. Bergstrom
,
Alexis Berne
,
Hanin Binder
,
Juliette Blanchet
,
Deniz Bozkurt
,
Thomas J. Bracegirdle
,
Mathieu Casado
,
Taejin Choi
,
Kyle R. Clem
,
Francis Codron
,
Rajashree Datta
,
Stefano Di Battista
,
Vincent Favier
,
Diana Francis
,
Alexander D. Fraser
,
Elise Fourré
,
René D. Garreaud
,
Christophe Genthon
,
Irina V. Gorodetskaya
,
Sergi González-Herrero
,
Victoria J. Heinrich
,
Guillaume Hubert
,
Hanna Joos
,
Seong-Joong Kim
,
John C. King
,
Christoph Kittel
,
Amaelle Landais
,
Matthew Lazzara
,
Gregory H. Leonard
,
Jan L. Lieser
,
Michelle Maclennan
,
David Mikolajczyk
,
Peter Neff
,
Inès Ollivier
,
Ghislain Picard
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
F. Martin Ralph
,
Penny Rowe
,
Elisabeth Schlosser
,
Christine A. Shields
,
Inga J. Smith
,
Michael Sprenger
,
Luke Trusel
,
Danielle Udy
,
Tessa Vance
,
Étienne Vignon
,
Catherine Walker
,
Nander Wever
, and
Xun Zou

Abstract

Between 15 and 19 March 2022, East Antarctica experienced an exceptional heat wave with widespread 30°–40°C temperature anomalies across the ice sheet. In Part I, we assessed the meteorological drivers that generated an intense atmospheric river (AR) that caused these record-shattering temperature anomalies. Here, we continue our large collaborative study by analyzing the widespread and diverse impacts driven by the AR landfall. These impacts included widespread rain and surface melt that was recorded along coastal areas, but this was outweighed by widespread high snowfall accumulations resulting in a largely positive surface mass balance contribution to the East Antarctic region. An analysis of the surface energy budget indicated that widespread downward longwave radiation anomalies caused by large cloud-liquid water contents along with some scattered solar radiation produced intense surface warming. Isotope measurements of the moisture were highly elevated, likely imprinting a strong signal for past climate reconstructions. The AR event attenuated cosmic ray measurements at Concordia, something previously never observed. Last, an extratropical cyclone west of the AR landfall likely triggered the final collapse of the critically unstable Conger Ice Shelf while further reducing an already record low sea ice extent.

Significance Statement

Using our diverse collective expertise, we explored the impacts from the March 2022 heat wave and atmospheric river across East Antarctica. One key takeaway is that the Antarctic cryosphere is highly sensitive to meteorological extremes originating from the midlatitudes and subtropics. Despite the large positive temperature anomalies driven from strong downward longwave radiation, this event led to huge amounts of snowfall across the Antarctic interior desert. The isotopes in this snow of warm airmass origin will likely be detectable in future ice cores and potentially distort past climate reconstructions. Even measurements of space activity were affected. Also, the swells generated from this storm helped to trigger the final collapse of an already critically unstable Conger Ice Shelf while further degrading sea ice coverage.

Open access
Jonathan D. Wille
,
Simon P. Alexander
,
Charles Amory
,
Rebecca Baiman
,
Léonard Barthélemy
,
Dana M. Bergstrom
,
Alexis Berne
,
Hanin Binder
,
Juliette Blanchet
,
Deniz Bozkurt
,
Thomas J. Bracegirdle
,
Mathieu Casado
,
Taejin Choi
,
Kyle R. Clem
,
Francis Codron
,
Rajashree Datta
,
Stefano Di Battista
,
Vincent Favier
,
Diana Francis
,
Alexander D. Fraser
,
Elise Fourré
,
René D. Garreaud
,
Christophe Genthon
,
Irina V. Gorodetskaya
,
Sergi González-Herrero
,
Victoria J. Heinrich
,
Guillaume Hubert
,
Hanna Joos
,
Seong-Joong Kim
,
John C. King
,
Christoph Kittel
,
Amaelle Landais
,
Matthew Lazzara
,
Gregory H. Leonard
,
Jan L. Lieser
,
Michelle Maclennan
,
David Mikolajczyk
,
Peter Neff
,
Inès Ollivier
,
Ghislain Picard
,
Benjamin Pohl
,
F. Martin Ralph
,
Penny Rowe
,
Elisabeth Schlosser
,
Christine A. Shields
,
Inga J. Smith
,
Michael Sprenger
,
Luke Trusel
,
Danielle Udy
,
Tessa Vance
,
Étienne Vignon
,
Catherine Walker
,
Nander Wever
, and
Xun Zou

Abstract

Between 15 and 19 March 2022, East Antarctica experienced an exceptional heat wave with widespread 30°–40°C temperature anomalies across the ice sheet. This record-shattering event saw numerous monthly temperature records being broken including a new all-time temperature record of −9.4°C on 18 March at Concordia Station despite March typically being a transition month to the Antarctic coreless winter. The driver for these temperature extremes was an intense atmospheric river advecting subtropical/midlatitude heat and moisture deep into the Antarctic interior. The scope of the temperature records spurred a large, diverse collaborative effort to study the heat wave’s meteorological drivers, impacts, and historical climate context. Here we focus on describing those temperature records along with the intricate meteorological drivers that led to the most intense atmospheric river observed over East Antarctica. These efforts describe the Rossby wave activity forced from intense tropical convection over the Indian Ocean. This led to an atmospheric river and warm conveyor belt intensification near the coastline, which reinforced atmospheric blocking deep into East Antarctica. The resulting moisture flux and upper-level warm-air advection eroded the typical surface temperature inversions over the ice sheet. At the peak of the heat wave, an area of 3.3 million km2 in East Antarctica exceeded previous March monthly temperature records. Despite a temperature anomaly return time of about 100 years, a closer recurrence of such an event is possible under future climate projections. In Part II we describe the various impacts this extreme event had on the East Antarctic cryosphere.

Significance Statement

In March 2022, a heat wave and atmospheric river caused some of the highest temperature anomalies ever observed globally and captured the attention of the Antarctic science community. Using our diverse collective expertise, we explored the causes of the event and have placed it within a historical climate context. One key takeaway is that Antarctic climate extremes are highly sensitive to perturbations in the midlatitudes and subtropics. This heat wave redefined our expectations of the Antarctic climate. Despite the rare chance of occurrence based on past climate, a future temperature extreme event of similar magnitude is possible, especially given anthropogenic climate change.

Open access