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Qiu-shi Chen
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

In σ coordinates, a variable ϕ e (x, y, σ, t) whose horizontal gradient − ϕ e is equal to the irrotational part of the horizontal pressure gradient force is referred to as an equivalent isobaric geopotential height. Its inner part can be derived from the solution of a Poisson equation with zero Dirichlet boundary value. Because − ϕ(x, y, p, t) is also the irrotational part of the horizontal pressure gradient force in p coordinates, the equivalent geopotential ϕ e in σ coordinates can be used in the same way as the geopotential ϕ(x, y, p, t) used in p coordinates. In the sea level pressure (SLP) analysis over Greenland, small but strong high pressure systems often occur due to extrapolation. These artificial systems can be removed if the equivalent geopotential ϕ e is used in synoptic analysis on a constant σ surface, for example, at σ = 0.995 level. The geostrophic relation between the equivalent geopotential and streamfunction at σ = 0.995 is approximately satisfied.

Because weather systems over the Tibetan Plateau are very difficult to track using routine SLP, 850-hPa, and 700-hPa analyses, equivalent isobaric geopotential analysis in σ coordinates is especially useful over this area. An example of equivalent isobaric geopotential analysis at σ = 0.995 shows that a secondary high separated from a major anticyclone over the Tibetan Plateau when cold air affected the northeastern part of the plateau, but this secondary high is hardly resolved by the SLP analysis. The early stage of a low (or vortex), called a southwest vortex due to its origin in southwest China, over the eastern flank of the Tibetan Plateau is more clearly identified by equivalent isobaric geopotential analysis at σ = 0.825 and 0.735 than by routine isobaric analysis at the 850- and 700-hPa levels. Anomalous high and low systems in the SLP analysis over the Tibetan Plateau due to extrapolation are all removed by equivalent isobaric geopotential analysis at σ = 0.995.

Use of equivalent geopotential ϕ e in the vorticity and divergence equations is presented, and the equivalent geopotential equation is derived. These equations can be used in numerical models, initializations, and other dynamical studies. As an example, it is shown how these equations are used to derive a velocity potential form of the generalized ω equation in σ coordinates. As a check, retrieval of precipitation over Greenland using this ω equation shows that the computed precipitation distributions for 1987 and 1988 are in good agreement with the observed annual accumulation.

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Thomas R. Parish
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

Surface pressure decreases of up to 20 hPa occurred over much of the Antarctic continent during a 4-day midwinter period of 1988. The widespread change in the pressure field accompanied intense cyclonic activity to the north of the ice sheet. The equatorward mass transport across the Antarctic coastline resulted in a redistribution of atmospheric pressure that extended to the subtropics of the Southern Hemisphere. Most of the mass flux from Antarctica was the result of low-level processes and appears tied to the katabatic wind circulation. The observed surface pressure decrease over the continent reflects a perturbation of the mean meridional circulation between Antarctica and the subpolar latitudes by synoptic-scale processes. Zonally averaged circulations over Antarctica were examined using output from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model. Results suggest that only a poorly defined return branch of the meridional circulation exists in the middle and upper troposphere. This southward-directed flow does not compensate for the northward mass transport provided by the katabatic wind outflow in the lower atmosphere. Isallobaric contours over the Antarctic ice sheet roughly match the area of the large-scale drainage catchment associated with katabatic wind transport through the Ross Sea sector. An intense extratropical cyclone was present in the circumpolar oceanic belt to the north of the continent. The horizontal pressure gradient associated with the cyclone prompted enhanced drainage off the high interior plateau. The resulting katabatic flow issued from the continent through a narrow corridor across the Ross Ice Shelf and out over the Southern Ocean.

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David H. Bromwich
and
Sheng-Hung Wang

Abstract

Many aspects of reanalysis data are of high quality over regions with sufficiently dense data, but the accuracy is uncertain over areas with sparse observations. NCEP–NCAR reanalysis (NNR) and ECMWF 15/40-Yr Re-Analysis (ERA-15 and ERA-40) variables are compared to two independent rawinsonde datasets from the periphery of the Arctic Ocean during the late 1980s and early 1990s: the Coordinated Eastern Arctic Research Experiment (CEAREX) and the Lead Experiment (LeadEx). The study is prompted by J. A. Francis who found that the NNR and ERA-15 upper-level winds are very different from those observed during these two field experiments.

All three reanalyses display large biases in comparisons of the wind components and wind speeds with CEAREX observations, particularly above the 500-hPa level, but exhibit smaller discrepancies with respect to the LeadEx data, generally consistent with the previous findings of J. A. Francis. However, all three reanalyses well capture the wind variability during both experiment periods. For the geopotential height, temperature, and moisture fields, the reanalyses demonstrate close agreement with the CEAREX rawinsonde observations. From comparisons with surrounding fixed rawinsonde stations and examination of the average vertical wind speed shear, it is concluded that the CEAREX upper-level wind speeds (especially above the 500-hPa level) are erroneous and average about half of the actual values. Thus, this evaluation suggests that the three reanalyses perform reliably for tropospheric-state variables from the edge of the Arctic Ocean during the modern satellite era.

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Keith M. Hines
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

A polar-optimized version of the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5) was developed to fill climate and synoptic needs of the polar science community and to achieve an improved regional performance. To continue the goal of enhanced polar mesoscale modeling, polar optimization should now be applied toward the state-of-the-art Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Evaluations and optimizations are especially needed for the boundary layer parameterization, cloud physics, snow surface physics, and sea ice treatment. Testing and development work for Polar WRF begins with simulations for ice sheet surface conditions using a Greenland-area domain with 24-km resolution. The winter month December 2002 and the summer month June 2001 are simulated with WRF, version 2.1.1, in a series of 48-h integrations initialized daily at 0000 UTC. The results motivated several improvements to Polar WRF, especially to the Noah land surface model (LSM) and the snowpack treatment. Different physics packages for WRF are evaluated with December 2002 simulations that show variable forecast skill when verified with the automatic weather station observations. The WRF simulation with the combination of the modified Noah LSM, the Mellor–Yamada–Janjić boundary layer parameterization, and the WRF single-moment microphysics produced results that reach or exceed the success standards of a Polar MM5 simulation for December 2002. For summer simulations of June 2001, WRF simulates an improved surface energy balance, and shows forecast skill nearly equal to that of Polar MM5.

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Zhong Liu
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

The blocking effect of Ross Island and Hut Point peninsula, Antarctica, has been investigated since the early part of this century. Due to lack of continuous measurements of boundary-layer winds, the investigations were limited to an overall description of the blocking effect with no information on the diurnal variation or the detailed vertical structure of the approaching airflow.

An acoustic sounder (sodar) was deployed during the 1990/91 austral summer season at Williams Field in the upwind area south of Ross Island, Antarctica. Such equipment can continuously measure three-dimensional winds from a few tens of meters above the surface up to an altitude of several hundred meters, thus providing a new opportunity to study the dynamics of the stably stratified planetary boundary layer.

In addition to confirming earlier work, the sodar winds show a significant diurnal variation of the blocking effect, which amplifies with height. Such variation is dominated by the changes in the upstream air mass in which katabatic airflow from Byrd, Mulock, and Skelton glaciers plays a central role.

Through case studies, the breakdown of the prevailing wind regime in the Ross Island area was associated with the influence of meso- and synoptic-scale pressure gradients on the katabatic airflow approaching from the south and with very localized geostrophic winds deflected around the topography of Ross Island.

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Zhong Liu
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

The surface wind pattern over the ice sheets of Antarctica is irregular with marked areas of airflow confluence near the coastal margins. Where cold air from a large interior area of the ice sheet converges (a confluence zone), an anomalously large supply of air is available to feed the coastal katabatic winds, which, as a result, are intensified and more persistent. The confluence zone inland of Siple Coast, West Antarctica, differs from its East Antarctic counterparts in that the terrain slopes become gentler rather than steeper as the coast is approached. In addition, synoptic processes exert substantially more impact on the behavior of the surface winds.

A month-long field program to study the dynamics of the springtime katabatic wind confluence zone has been carried out near Siple Coast. Two sites, Upstream B (83.5°S, 136.1°W) and South Camp (84.5°S, 134.3°W), were established roughly perpendicular to the downslope direction. The field program involved the use of the ground-based remote sensing equipment (sodar and RASS) along with conventional surface and balloon observations. Previous analyses revealed the cross-sectional structure of the confluence zone as consisting of a more buoyant West Antarctic katabatic airflow overlying a less buoyant katabatic airflow originating from East Antarctica.

The force balances inside the confluence zone are here investigated for three situations: mean (all available wind profiles from balloon launches), and two extreme cases (light and strong winds). A linear regression method is used to estimate the mean vertical wind shears and horizontal temperature gradients. The vertical wind shears are used to examine whether or not the airflows are in geostrophic balance. The results are 1) the airflow above the surface at both sites is in geostrophic balance for the three situations; 2) inside the West Antarctic katabatic wind zone, there are three forces in the north–south direction—the restoring pressure gradient force associated with blocking of the katabatic and synoptic winds, the downslope buoyancy force, and the synoptic pressure gradient force associated with the time-averaged low in the South Pacific Ocean; 3) above the West Antarctic katabatic wind layer, the observed easterly wind is due to the synoptic pressure gradient force associated with the low; 4) inside the East Antarctic katabatic wind zone, in addition to the above three forces, there is the downslope buoyancy force associated with the inversion; and 5) large-scale transient synoptic systems strongly influence the downslope wind speed and the boundary layer depth, resulting in the light and strong wind cases.

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Ryan L. Fogt
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

Decadal variability of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) teleconnection to the high-latitude South Pacific is examined by correlating the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) 40-yr Re-Analysis (ERA-40) and observations with the Southern Oscillation index (SOI) over the last two decades. There is a distinct annual contrast between the 1980s and the 1990s, with the strong teleconnection in the 1990s being explained by an enhanced response during austral spring. Geopotential height anomaly composites constructed during the peak ENSO seasons also demonstrate the decadal variability.

Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis reveals that the 1980s September–November (SON) teleconnection is weak due to the interference between the Pacific–South American (PSA) pattern associated with ENSO and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). An in-phase relationship between these two modes during SON in the 1990s amplifies the height and pressure anomalies in the South Pacific, producing the strong teleconnections seen in the correlation and composite analyses. The in-phase relationship between the tropical and high-latitude forcing also exists in December–February (DJF) during the 1980s and 1990s.

These results suggest that natural climate variability plays an important role in the variability of SAM, in agreement with a growing body of literature. Additionally, the significantly positive correlation between ENSO and SAM only during times of strong teleconnection suggests that both the Tropics and the high latitudes need to work together in order for ENSO to strongly influence Antarctic climate.

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Thomas R. Parish
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

Katabatic winds are a common feature of the lower Antarctic atmosphere. Although these drainage flows are quite shallow, there is increasing evidence that the low-level circulations are an important component in establishing large-scale tropospheric motions in the high southern latitudes. Three-dimensional numerical simulations of the Antarctic katabatic wind regime and attendant tropospheric circulations have been conducted over the entire continent to depict the topographically forced drainage patterns in the near-surface layer of the atmosphere. Results of the simulation enable a mapping of katabatic wind potential and identification of coastal regions which may experience anomalously intense katabatic winds. A large upper-level cyclonic circulation forms rapidly in response to the evolving katabatic wind structure in the lower atmosphere, suggesting that the drainage circulations are an important component in prescribing the resulting resulting circumpolar vortex. These results imply that some representation of the Antarctic katabatic wind regime is necessary in general circulation models in order to properly simulate the large-scale circulations about the continent.

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Julien P. Nicolas
and
David H. Bromwich

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.

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Francis O. Otieno
and
David H. Bromwich

Abstract

The role of atmospheric circulations, yielding extremely cold summer and wet winter seasons, in the development of perennial snow cover over the inception region of the Laurentide Ice Sheet is investigated using the Community Land Model, version 3 (CLM3) with bias-corrected 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) idealized atmospheric forcing. Potential contribution of changes in frequency of these extremes under contemporary and Eemian (116 kyr BP) conditions is also examined by adjusting the atmospheric forcing.

The results confirm that colder atmospheric temperatures during the melt season are more important than extreme amounts of winter snowfall. Increases in frequency of extremely cold and persistent summer air temperatures in the contemporary climate do not produce perennial snow. An additional cooling of 4°C together with adjustments for Eemian incident radiation is required for perennial snow to start growing around Hudson Bay. Deeper snow is found over the Labrador–Ungava area, close to the North Atlantic Ocean moisture sources, compared to the Keewatin area. These areas are in agreement with the locations of the Laurentide Ice Sheet domes found from free gravity analysis.

Starting from the warm present-day atmosphere a 25% decrease in summer insolation is required for CLM3 to develop perennial snow. This suggests that cooling resulting from modest decreases in local insolation in response to Milankovitch radiation forcing was insufficient for inception at 116 kyr BP. Remote cooling or local feedbacks that amplify the impact of the modest insolation reductions are required. A large-scale atmospheric cooling appears to have played a decisive role in inception.

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