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G. W. K. Moore and I. A. Renfrew

Abstract

The high topography of Greenland results in a number of orographically induced high wind speed flows along its coast that are of interest from both a severe weather and climate perspective. Here the surface wind field dataset from the NASA–JPL SeaWinds scatterometer on board the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite is used to develop a wintertime climatology of these flows. The high spatial resolution and the twice-daily sampling of the SeaWinds instrument allows for a much more detailed view of the surface winds around Greenland than has been previously possible. Three phenomena stand out as the most distinctive features of the surface wind field during the winter months: the previously identified tip jets and reverse tip jets, as well as the hitherto unrecognized barrier flows along its southeast coast in the vicinity of the Denmark Strait. Peak surface wind speeds associated with these phenomena can be as large as 50 m s−1 with winds over 25 m s−1 occurring approximately 10%–15% of the time at each location.

A compositing technique is used to show that each type of flow is the result of an interaction between a synoptic-scale parent cyclone and the high topography of Greenland. In keeping with previous work, it is argued that tip jets are caused by a combination of conservation of the Bernoulli function during orographic descent and acceleration due to flow splitting as stable air passes around Cape Farewell, while barrier winds are a geostrophic response to stable air being forced against high topography. It is proposed that reverse tip jets occur when barrier winds reach the end of the topographic barrier and move from a geostrophic to a gradient wind balance, becoming supergeostrophic as a result of their anticyclonic curvature.

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G. W. K. Moore and I. A. Renfrew

Abstract

With the completion of the NCEP–NCAR and ECMWF reanalyses there are now global representations of air–sea surface heat fluxes with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to be useful in characterizing the air–sea interaction associated with individual weather systems, as well as in developing global-scale oceanic heat and moisture budgets. However, these fluxes are strongly dependent on the numerical models used, and, as a result, there is a clear need to validate them against observations. Accurate air–sea heat flux estimates require a realistic representation of the atmospheric boundary layer, and the implementation of an appropriate surface flux parameterization. Previous work at high latitudes has highlighted the shortcomings of the surface turbulent heat flux parameterization used in the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis during high wind speed conditions, especially when combined with large air–sea temperature differences. Here the authors extend this result through an examination of the air–sea heat fluxes over the western boundary currents of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. These are also regions where large transfers of heat and moisture from the ocean to the atmosphere take place. A comparison with in situ data shows that the surface layer meteorological fields are reasonably well represented in the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, but the turbulent heat flux fields contain significant systematic errors. It is argued that these errors are associated with shortcomings in the bulk flux algorithm employed in the reanalysis. Using the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis surface layer meteorological fields and a more appropriate bulk flux algorithm, “adjusted” fields for the sensible and latent heat fluxes are presented that more accurately represent the air–sea exchange of heat and moisture over the western boundary currents.

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B. E. Harden, I. A. Renfrew, and G. N. Petersen

Abstract

A climatology of barrier winds along the southeastern coast of Greenland is presented based on 20 yr of winter months (1989–2008) from the ECMWF Interim Reanalysis (ERA-Interim). Barrier wind events occur predominantly at two locations: Denmark Strait North (DSN; 67.7°N, 25.3°W) and Denmark Strait South (DSS; 64.9°N, 35.9°W). Events stronger than 20 m s−1 occur on average once per week during winter with considerable interannual variability—from 7 to 20 events per winter. The monthly frequency of barrier wind events correlates with the monthly North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) index with a correlation coefficient of 0.57 (0.31) at DSN (DSS). The associated total turbulent heat fluxes for barrier wind events (area averaged) were typically about 200 W m−2 with peak values of 400 W m−2 common in smaller regions. Area-averaged surface stresses were typically between 0.5 and 1 N m−2. Total precipitation rates were larger at DSS than DSN, both typically less than 1 mm h−1. The total turbulent heat fluxes were shown to have a large range as a result of a large range in 2-m air temperature. Two classes of barrier winds—warm and cold—were investigated and found to develop in different synoptic-scale situations. Warm barrier winds developed when there was a blocking high pressure over the Nordic seas, while cold barrier winds owed their presence to a train of cyclones channeling through the region.

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G. W. K. Moore, K. Alverson, and I. A. Renfrew

Abstract

A recent major climatic event was the occurrence of approximately 350 000 square kilometers of open water in the normally ice covered Weddell Sea near Antarctica during the winters of 1974–76. Within this polynya there was vigorous air–sea interaction resulting in the densification of the surface waters, a convective overturning of the water column, and the formation of large amounts of Antarctic Bottom Water. In order to further our understanding of this important event, the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis dataset is used to reconstruct the air–sea interaction associated with this polynya. The reconstruction shows that the polynya had a profound impact on the surface meteorology of the region. Surface air temperatures over the polynya were on the order of 20°C warmer than climatology. Total cloud cover over the polynya was 50% higher than climatology. The magnitude of the monthly mean sensible and latent heat fluxes during the winter months were on the order of 150 and 50 W m−2, respectively, while precipitation was on the order of 1 mm day−1. Furthermore, the reconstructed air–sea fluxes are highly variable in time with instantaneous values 5–10 times larger than monthly mean values. A cross-correlation analysis suggests that much of this variability can be attributed to the passage of transient synoptic-scale weather systems. The reconstructed buoyancy flux within the polynya during winter was on average negative, indicating that the surface waters were becoming denser thereby driving oceanic convection and Antarctic Bottom Water formation. Nevertheless there were instances when the buoyancy flux was positive. During these events, the freshwater flux due to precipitation was larger than the effect of cooling, thus resulting in a reduction in the density of the surface waters of the polynya. The integrated buoyancy flux over the winter period exceeds a previous estimate by 30%–40%, suggesting that the oceanic convection that took place as a result of the existence of the polynya may have been significantly more vigorous than previously thought.

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G. W. K. Moore, I. A. Renfrew, and R. S. Pickart

Abstract

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is one of the most important modes of variability in the global climate system and is characterized by a meridional dipole in the sea level pressure field, with centers of action near Iceland and the Azores. It has a profound influence on the weather, climate, ecosystems, and economies of Europe, Greenland, eastern North America, and North Africa. It has been proposed that around 1980, there was an eastward secular shift in the NAO’s northern center of action that impacted sea ice export through Fram Strait. Independently, it has also been suggested that the location of its southern center of action is tied to the phase of the NAO. Both of these attributes of the NAO have been linked to anthropogenic climate change. Here the authors use both the one-point correlation map technique as well as empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis to show that the meridional dipole that is often seen in the sea level pressure field over the North Atlantic is not purely the result of the NAO (as traditionally defined) but rather arises through an interplay among the NAO and two other leading modes of variability in the North Atlantic region: the East Atlantic (EA) and the Scandinavian (SCA) patterns. This interplay has resulted in multidecadal mobility in the two centers of action of the meridional dipole since the late nineteenth century. In particular, an eastward movement of the dipole has occurred during the 1930s to 1950s as well as more recently. This mobility is not seen in the leading EOF of the sea level pressure field in the region.

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B. E. Harden, R. S. Pickart, and I. A. Renfrew

Abstract

Data from a mooring deployed at the edge of the East Greenland shelf south of Denmark Strait from September 2007 to October 2008 are analyzed to investigate the processes by which dense water is transferred off the shelf. It is found that water denser than 27.7 kg m−3—as dense as water previously attributed to the adjacent East Greenland Spill Jet—resides near the bottom of the shelf for most of the year with no discernible seasonality. The mean velocity in the central part of the water column is directed along the isobaths, while the deep flow is bottom intensified and veers offshore. Two mechanisms for driving dense spilling events are investigated, one due to offshore forcing and the other associated with wind forcing. Denmark Strait cyclones propagating southward along the continental slope are shown to drive off-shelf flow at their leading edges and are responsible for much of the triggering of individual spilling events. Northerly barrier winds also force spilling. Local winds generate an Ekman downwelling cell. Nonlocal winds also excite spilling, which is hypothesized to be the result of southward-propagating coastally trapped waves, although definitive confirmation is still required. The combined effect of the eddies and barrier winds results in the strongest spilling events, while in the absence of winds a train of eddies causes enhanced spilling.

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E. A. Irvine, S. L. Gray, J. Methven, and I. A. Renfrew

Abstract

For a targeted observations case, the dependence of the size of the forecast impact on the targeted dropsonde observation error in the data assimilation is assessed. The targeted observations were made in the lee of Greenland; the dependence of the impact on the proximity of the observations to the Greenland coast is also investigated. Experiments were conducted using the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM), over a limited-area domain at 24-km grid spacing, with a four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var) scheme. Reducing the operational dropsonde observation errors by one-half increases the maximum forecast improvement from 5% to 7%–10%, measured in terms of total energy. However, the largest impact is seen by replacing two dropsondes on the Greenland coast with two farther from the steep orography; this increases the maximum forecast improvement from 5% to 18% for an 18-h forecast (using operational observation errors). Forecast degradation caused by two dropsonde observations on the Greenland coast is shown to arise from spreading of data by the background errors up the steep slope of Greenland. Removing boundary layer data from these dropsondes reduces the forecast degradation, but it is only a partial solution to this problem. Although only from one case study, these results suggest that observations positioned within a correlation length scale of steep orography may degrade the forecast through the anomalous upslope spreading of analysis increments along terrain-following model levels.

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I. A. Renfrew, G. W. K. Moore, J. E. Kristjánsson, H. Ólafsson, S. L. Gray, G. N. Petersen, K. Bovis, P. R. A. Brown, I. Føre, T. Haine, C. Hay, E. A. Irvine, A Lawrence, T. Ohigashi, S. Outten, R. S. Pickart, M. Shapiro, D. Sproson, R. Swinbank, A. Woolley, and S. Zhang

Greenland has a major influence on the atmospheric circulation of the North Atlantic-western European region, dictating the location and strength of mesoscale weather systems around the coastal seas of Greenland and directly influencing synoptic-scale weather systems both locally and downstream over Europe. High winds associated with the local weather systems can induce large air-sea fluxes of heat, moisture, and momentum in a region that is critical to the overturning of the thermohaline circulation, and thus play a key role in controlling the coupled atmosphere-ocean climate system.

The Greenland Flow Distortion Experiment (GFDex) is investigating the role of Greenland in defining the structure and predictability of both local and downstream weather systems through a program of aircraft-based observation and numerical modeling. The GFDex observational program is centered upon an aircraft-based field campaign in February and March 2007, at the dawn of the International Polar Year. Twelve missions were flown with the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements' BAe-146, based out of the Keflavik, Iceland. These included the first aircraft-based observations of a reverse tip jet event, the first aircraft-based observations of barrier winds off of southeast Greenland, two polar mesoscale cyclones, a dramatic case of lee cyclogenesis, and several targeted observation missions into areas where additional observations were predicted to improve forecasts.

In this overview of GFDex the background, aims and objectives, and facilities and logistics are described. A summary of the campaign is provided, along with some of the highlights of the experiment.

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J. A. Curry, A. Bentamy, M. A. Bourassa, D. Bourras, E. F. Bradley, M. Brunke, S. Castro, S. H. Chou, C. A. Clayson, W. J. Emery, L. Eymard, C. W. Fairall, M. Kubota, B. Lin, W. Perrie, R. A. Reeder, I. A. Renfrew, W. B. Rossow, J. Schulz, S. R. Smith, P. J. Webster, G. A. Wick, and X. Zeng

High-resolution surface fluxes over the global ocean are needed to evaluate coupled atmosphere–ocean models and weather forecasting models, provide surface forcing for ocean models, understand the regional and temporal variations of the exchange of heat between the atmosphere and ocean, and provide a large-scale context for field experiments. Under the auspices of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Radiation Panel, the SEAFLUX Project has been initiated to investigate producing a high-resolution satellite-based dataset of surface turbulent fluxes over the global oceans to complement the existing products for surface radiation fluxes and precipitation. The SEAFLUX Project includes the following elements: a library of in situ data, with collocated satellite data to be used in the evaluation and improvement of global flux products; organized intercomparison projects, to evaluate and improve bulk flux models and determination from the satellite of the input parameters; and coordinated evaluation of the flux products in the context of applications, such as forcing ocean models and evaluation of coupled atmosphere–ocean models. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of the status of global ocean surface flux products, the methodology being used by SEAFLUX, and the prospects for improvement of satellite-derived flux products.

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I. A. Renfrew, R. S. Pickart, K. Våge, G. W. K. Moore, T. J. Bracegirdle, A. D. Elvidge, E. Jeansson, T. Lachlan-Cope, L. T. McRaven, L. Papritz, J. Reuder, H. Sodemann, A. Terpstra, S. Waterman, H. Valdimarsson, A. Weiss, M. Almansi, F. Bahr, A. Brakstad, C. Barrell, J. K. Brooke, B. J. Brooks, I. M. Brooks, M. E. Brooks, E. M. Bruvik, C. Duscha, I. Fer, H. M. Golid, M. Hallerstig, I. Hessevik, J. Huang, L. Houghton, S. Jónsson, M. Jonassen, K. Jackson, K. Kvalsund, E. W. Kolstad, K. Konstali, J. Kristiansen, R. Ladkin, P. Lin, A. Macrander, A. Mitchell, H. Olafsson, A. Pacini, C. Payne, B. Palmason, M. D. Pérez-Hernández, A. K. Peterson, G. N. Petersen, M. N. Pisareva, J. O. Pope, A. Seidl, S. Semper, D. Sergeev, S. Skjelsvik, H. Søiland, D. Smith, M. A. Spall, T. Spengler, A. Touzeau, G. Tupper, Y. Weng, K. D. Williams, X. Yang, and S. Zhou

Abstract

The Iceland Greenland Seas Project (IGP) is a coordinated atmosphere–ocean research program investigating climate processes in the source region of the densest waters of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. During February and March 2018, a field campaign was executed over the Iceland and southern Greenland Seas that utilized a range of observing platforms to investigate critical processes in the region, including a research vessel, a research aircraft, moorings, sea gliders, floats, and a meteorological buoy. A remarkable feature of the field campaign was the highly coordinated deployment of the observing platforms, whereby the research vessel and aircraft tracks were planned in concert to allow simultaneous sampling of the atmosphere, the ocean, and their interactions. This joint planning was supported by tailor-made convection-permitting weather forecasts and novel diagnostics from an ensemble prediction system. The scientific aims of the IGP are to characterize the atmospheric forcing and the ocean response of coupled processes; in particular, cold-air outbreaks in the vicinity of the marginal ice zone and their triggering of oceanic heat loss, and the role of freshwater in the generation of dense water masses. The campaign observed the life cycle of a long-lasting cold-air outbreak over the Iceland Sea and the development of a cold-air outbreak over the Greenland Sea. Repeated profiling revealed the immediate impact on the ocean, while a comprehensive hydrographic survey provided a rare picture of these subpolar seas in winter. A joint atmosphere–ocean approach is also being used in the analysis phase, with coupled observational analysis and coordinated numerical modeling activities underway.

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