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John E. Walsh
,
David H. Bromwich
,
James. E. Overland
,
Mark C. Serreze
, and
Kevin R. Wood

Abstract

The polar regions present several unique challenges to meteorology, including remoteness and a harsh environment. We summarize the evolution of polar meteorology in both hemispheres, beginning with measurements made during early expeditions and concluding with the recent decades in which polar meteorology has been central to global challenges such as the ozone hole, weather prediction, and climate change. Whereas the 1800s and early 1900s provided data from expeditions and only a few subarctic stations, the past 100 years have seen great advances in the observational network and corresponding understanding of the meteorology of the polar regions. For example, a persistent view in the early twentieth century was of an Arctic Ocean dominated by a permanent high pressure cell, a glacial anticyclone. With increased observations, by the 1950s it became apparent that, while anticyclones are a common feature of the Arctic circulation, cyclones are frequent and may be found anywhere in the Arctic. Technology has benefited polar meteorology through advances in instrumentation, especially autonomously operated instruments. Moreover, satellite remote sensing and computer models revolutionized polar meteorology. We highlight the four International Polar Years and several high-latitude field programs of recent decades. We also note outstanding challenges, which include understanding of the role of the Arctic in variations of midlatitude weather and climate, the ability to model surface energy exchanges over a changing Arctic Ocean, assessments of ongoing and future trends in extreme events in polar regions, and the role of internal variability in multiyear-to-decadal variations of polar climate.

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Andrew J. Monaghan
,
David H. Bromwich
,
Jordan G. Powers
, and
Kevin W. Manning

Abstract

In response to the need for improved weather prediction capabilities in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Antarctic field operations, the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) was implemented in October 2000. AMPS employs a limited-area model, the Polar fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5), optimized for use over ice sheets. Twice-daily forecasts from the 3.3-km resolution domain of AMPS are joined together to study the climate of the McMurdo region from June 2002 to May 2003. Annual and seasonal distributions of wind direction and speed, 2-m temperature, mean sea level pressure, precipitation, and cloud fraction are presented. This is the first time a model adapted for polar use and with relatively high resolution is used to study the climate of the rugged McMurdo region, allowing several important climatological features to be investigated with unprecedented detail.

Orographic effects exert an important influence on the near-surface winds. Time-mean vortices occur in the lee of Ross Island, perhaps a factor in the high incidence of mesoscale cyclogenesis noted in this area. The near-surface temperature gradient is oriented northwest to southeast with the warmest temperatures in the northwest near McMurdo and the gradient being steepest in winter. The first-ever detailed precipitation maps of the region are presented. Orographic precipitation maxima occur on the southerly slopes of Ross Island and in the mountains to the southwest. The source of the moisture is primarily from the large synoptic systems passing to the northeast and east of Ross Island. A precipitation-shadow effect appears to be an important influence on the low precipitation amounts observed in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Total cloud fraction primarily depends on the amount of open water in the Ross Sea; the cloudiest region is to the northeast of Ross Island in the vicinity of the Ross Sea polynya.

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David H. Bromwich
,
Frank M. Robasky
,
Richard A. Keen
, and
John F. Bolzan

Abstract

A parameterization of the synoptic activity at 500 hPa and a simple orographic scheme are used to model the spatial and temporal variations of precipitation over the Greenland Ice Sheet for 1963–88 from analyzed geopotential height fields produced by the National Meteorological Center (NMC). Model coefficients are fitted to observed accumulation data, primarily from the summit area of the ice sheet. All major spatial characteristics of the observed accumulation distribution are reproduced apart from the orographic accumulation maximum over the northwestern coastal slopes. The modeled time-averaged total precipitation amount over Greenland is within the range of values determined by other investigators from surface-based observations. A realistic degree of interannual variability in precipitation is also simulated.

A downward trend in simulated ice sheet precipitation over the 26 years is found. This is supported by a number of lines of evidence. It matches the accumulation trends during this period from ice cores drilled in south-central Greenland. The lower tropospheric specific humidifies at two south coastal radiosonde stations also decrease over this interval. A systematic shift away from Greenland and a decrease in activity of the dominant storm track are found for relatively low precipitation periods as compared to relatively high precipitation periods. This negative precipitation trend would mean that the Greenland Ice Sheet, depending on its 1963 mass balance state, has over the 1963–88 period either decreased its negative, or increased its positive, contribution to recently observed global sea level rise.

Superimposed on the declining simulated precipitation rate for the entire ice sheet is a pronounced 3–5-yr periodicity. This is prominent in the observed and modeled precipitation time series from Summit, Greenland. This cycle shows some aspects in common with the Southern Oscillation.

Some deficiencies in the NMC analysts were highlighted by this work. A large jump in simulated precipitation amounts at Summit around 1962, which is not verified by accumulation data, is inferred to be due to an artificial increase in cyclonic activity at 500 hPa associated with the NMC change from manual to numerical analyses. The activity of the storm track along the west coast of Greenland appears to be anomalously low in the NMC analyses, perhaps due to mesoscale cyclogenesis that is not resolved by the NMC analysis scheme.

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Alvaro Avila-Diaz
,
David H. Bromwich
,
Aaron B. Wilson
,
Flavio Justino
, and
Sheng-Hung Wang

ABSTRACT

Atmospheric reanalyses are a valuable climate-related resource where in situ data are sparse. However, few studies have investigated the skill of reanalyses to represent extreme climate indices over the North American Arctic, where changes have been rapid and indigenous responses to change are critical. This study investigates temperature and precipitation extremes as defined by the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI) over a 17-yr period (2000–16) for regional and global reanalyses, namely the Arctic System Reanalysis, version 2 (ASRv2); North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR); European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ERA5 reanalysis; Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2); and Global Meteorological Forcing Dataset for Land Surface Modeling (GMFD). Results indicate that the best performances are demonstrated by ASRv2 and ERA5. Relative to observations, reanalyses show the weakest performance over far northern basins (e.g., the Arctic and Hudson basins) where observing networks are less dense. Observations and reanalyses show consistent warming with decreased frequency and intensity of cold extremes. Cold days, cold nights, frost days, and ice days have decreased dramatically over the last two decades. Warming can be linked to a simultaneous increase in daily precipitation intensity over several basins in the domain. Moreover, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) distinctly influence extreme climate indices. Thus, these findings detail the complexity of how the climate of the Arctic is changing, not just in an average sense, but in extreme events that have significant impacts on people and places.

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Johanna C. Speirs
,
Daniel F. Steinhoff
,
Hamish A. McGowan
,
David H. Bromwich
, and
Andrew J. Monaghan

Abstract

Foehn winds resulting from topographic modification of airflow in the lee of mountain barriers are frequently experienced in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDVs) of Antarctica. Strong foehn winds in the MDVs cause dramatic warming at onset and have significant effects on landscape forming processes; however, no detailed scientific investigation of foehn in the MDVs has been conducted. As a result, they are often misinterpreted as adiabatically warmed katabatic winds draining from the polar plateau. Herein observations from surface weather stations and numerical model output from the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) during foehn events in the MDVs are presented. Results show that foehn winds in the MDVs are caused by topographic modification of south-southwesterly airflow, which is channeled into the valleys from higher levels. Modeling of a winter foehn event identifies mountain wave activity similar to that associated with midlatitude foehn winds. These events are found to be caused by strong pressure gradients over the mountain ranges of the MDVs related to synoptic-scale cyclones positioned off the coast of Marie Byrd Land. Analysis of meteorological records for 2006 and 2007 finds an increase of 10% in the frequency of foehn events in 2007 compared to 2006, which corresponds to stronger pressure gradients in the Ross Sea region. It is postulated that the intra- and interannual frequency and intensity of foehn events in the MDVs may therefore vary in response to the position and frequency of cyclones in the Ross Sea region.

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Ryan C. Scott
,
Julien P. Nicolas
,
David H. Bromwich
,
Joel R. Norris
, and
Dan Lubin

Abstract

Understanding the drivers of surface melting in West Antarctica is crucial for understanding future ice loss and global sea level rise. This study identifies atmospheric drivers of surface melt on West Antarctic ice shelves and ice sheet margins and relationships with tropical Pacific and high-latitude climate forcing using multidecadal reanalysis and satellite datasets. Physical drivers of ice melt are diagnosed by comparing satellite-observed melt patterns to anomalies of reanalysis near-surface air temperature, winds, and satellite-derived cloud cover, radiative fluxes, and sea ice concentration based on an Antarctic summer synoptic climatology spanning 1979–2017. Summer warming in West Antarctica is favored by Amundsen Sea (AS) blocking activity and a negative phase of the southern annular mode (SAM), which both correlate with El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Extensive melt events on the Ross–Amundsen sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) are linked to persistent, intense AS blocking anticyclones, which force intrusions of marine air over the ice sheet. Surface melting is primarily driven by enhanced downwelling longwave radiation from clouds and a warm, moist atmosphere and by turbulent mixing of sensible heat to the surface by föhn winds. Since the late 1990s, concurrent with ocean-driven WAIS mass loss, summer surface melt occurrence has increased from the Amundsen Sea Embayment to the eastern Ross Ice Shelf. We link this change to increasing anticyclonic advection of marine air into West Antarctica, amplified by increasing air–sea fluxes associated with declining sea ice concentration in the coastal Ross–Amundsen Seas.

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Jason E. Box
,
Lei Yang
,
David H. Bromwich
, and
Le-Sheng Bai

Abstract

Meteorological station records and regional climate model output are combined to develop a continuous 168-yr (1840–2007) spatial reconstruction of monthly, seasonal, and annual mean Greenland ice sheet near-surface air temperatures. Independent observations are used to assess and compensate for systematic errors in the model output. Uncertainty is quantified using residual nonsystematic error. Spatial and temporal temperature variability is investigated on seasonal and annual time scales. It is found that volcanic cooling episodes are concentrated in winter and along the western ice sheet slope. Interdecadal warming trends coincide with an absence of major volcanic eruptions. Year 2003 was the only year of 1840–2007 with a warm anomaly that exceeds three standard deviations from the 1951–80 base period. The annual whole ice sheet 1919–32 warming trend is 33% greater in magnitude than the 1994–2007 warming. The recent warming was, however, stronger along western Greenland in autumn and southern Greenland in winter. Spring trends marked the 1920s warming onset, while autumn leads the 1994–2007 warming. In contrast to the 1920s warming, the 1994–2007 warming has not surpassed the Northern Hemisphere anomaly. An additional 1.0°–1.5°C of annual mean warming would be needed for Greenland to be in phase with the Northern Hemispheric pattern. Thus, it is expected that the ice sheet melt rates and mass deficit will continue to grow in the early twenty-first century as Greenland’s climate catches up with the Northern Hemisphere warming trend and the Arctic climate warms according to global climate model predictions.

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Keith M. Hines
,
David H. Bromwich
,
Le-Sheng Bai
,
Michael Barlage
, and
Andrew G. Slater

Abstract

A version of the state-of-the-art Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) has been developed for use in polar climates. The model known as “Polar WRF” is tested for land areas with a western Arctic grid that has 25-km resolution. This work serves as preparation for the high-resolution Arctic System Reanalysis of the years 2000–10. The model is based upon WRF version 3.0.1.1, with improvements to the Noah land surface model and snow/ice treatment. Simulations consist of a series of 48-h integrations initialized daily at 0000 UTC, with the initial 24 h taken as spinup for atmospheric hydrology and boundary layer processes. Soil temperature and moisture that have a much slower spinup than the atmosphere are cycled from 48-h output of earlier runs. Arctic conditions are simulated for a winter-to-summer seasonal cycle from 15 November 2006 to 1 August 2007. Simulation results are compared with a variety of observations from several Alaskan sites, with emphasis on the North Slope. Polar WRF simulation results show good agreement with most near-surface observations. Warm temperature biases are found for winter and summer. A sensitivity experiment with reduced soil heat conductivity, however, improves simulation of near-surface temperature, ground heat flux, and soil temperature during winter. There is a marked deficit in summer cloud cover over land with excessive incident shortwave radiation. The cloud deficit may result from anomalous vertical mixing of moisture by the turbulence parameterization. The new snow albedo parameterization for WRF 3.1.1 is successfully tested for snowmelt over the North Slope of Alaska.

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Aaron B. Wilson
,
David H. Bromwich
,
Keith M. Hines
, and
Sheng-hung Wang

Abstract

Two El Niño flavors have been defined based on whether warm sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are located in the central or eastern tropical Pacific (CP or EP). This study further characterizes the impacts on atmospheric circulation in the high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere associated with these types of El Niño events though a series of numerical simulations using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmosphere Model (CAM). Comparing results with the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim), CAM simulates well the known changes to blocking over Australia and a southward shift in the subtropical jet stream across the eastern Pacific basin during CP events. More importantly for the high southern latitudes, CAM simulates a westward shift in upper-level divergence in the tropical Pacific, which causes the Pacific–South American stationary wave pattern to shift toward the west across the entire South Pacific. These changes to the Rossby wave source region impact the South Pacific convergence zone and jet streams and weaken the high-latitude blocking that is typically present in the Amundsen-Bellingshausen Seas during EP events. Anticyclonic flow becomes established farther west in the south central Pacific, modifying high-latitude heat and momentum fluxes across the South Pacific and South Atlantic associated with the ENSO–Antarctic dipole.

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Jordan G. Powers
,
Kevin W. Manning
,
David H. Bromwich
,
John J. Cassano
, and
Arthur M. Cayette

The Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) is a real-time numerical weather prediction (NWP) system covering Antarctica that has served a remarkable range of groups and activities for a decade. It employs the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) on varying-resolution grids to generate numerical guidance in a variety of tailored products. While its priority mission has been to support the forecasters of the U.S. Antarctic Program, AMPS has evolved to assist a host of scientific and logistical needs for an international user base. The AMPS effort has advanced polar NWP and Antarctic science and looks to continue this into another decade. To inform those with Antarctic scientific and logistical interests and needs, the history, applications, and capabilities of AMPS are discussed.

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