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Kyle R. Clem and James A. Renwick

Abstract

Significant austral spring trends have previously been observed in West Antarctica and Antarctic Peninsula temperatures and in atmospheric circulation across the southern Pacific and Atlantic. Here, physical mechanisms for the observed trends are investigated through analysis of monthly circulation and temperatures from the ERA-Interim dataset and outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) data. The negative pressure trend over the South Pacific during spring is strongest in September, while the positive pressure trend over the South Atlantic is strongest in October. Pressure trends in November are generally nonsignificant. The authors demonstrate that a significant September trend toward increased convection (reduced OLR) in the poleward portion of the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) is statistically related to Rossby wave–like circulation changes across the southern oceans. The wave response is strongest over the South Pacific in September and propagates eastward to the South Atlantic in October. OLR-related changes are linearly congruent with around half of the observed total changes in circulation during September and October and are consistent with observed trends in South Pacific sea ice concentration and surface temperature over western West Antarctica and the western Antarctic Peninsula. These results suggest SPCZ variability in early spring, especially on the poleward side of the SPCZ, is an important contributor to circulation and surface temperature trends across the South Pacific/Atlantic and West Antarctica.

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Kyle R. Clem, James A. Renwick, and James McGregor

Abstract

Using empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis and atmospheric reanalyses, the principal patterns of seasonal West Antarctic surface air temperature (SAT) and their connection to sea ice and the Amundsen Sea low (ASL) are examined. During austral summer, the leading EOF (EOF1) explains 35% of West Antarctic SAT variability and consists of a widespread SAT anomaly over the continent linked to persistent sea ice concentration anomalies over the Ross and Amundsen Seas from the previous spring. Outside of summer, EOF1 (explaining ~40%–50% of the variability) consists of an east–west dipole over the continent with SAT anomalies over the Antarctic Peninsula opposite those over western West Antarctica. The dipole is tied to variability in the southern annular mode (SAM) and in-phase El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)/SAM combinations that influence the depth of the ASL over the central Amundsen Sea (near 105°W). The second EOF (EOF2) during autumn, winter, and spring (explaining ~15%–20% of the variability) consists of a dipole shifted approximately 30° west of EOF1 with a widespread SAT anomaly over the continent. During winter and spring, EOF2 is closely tied to variability in ENSO and a tropically forced wave train that influences the ASL in the western Amundsen/eastern Ross Seas (near 135°W) with an opposite-sign circulation anomaly over the Weddell Sea; the ENSO-related circulation brings anomalous thermal advection deep onto the continent. The authors conclude that the ENSO-only circulation pattern is associated with SAT variability across interior West Antarctica, especially during winter and spring, whereas the SAM circulation pattern is associated with an SAT dipole over the continent.

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E. Povl Abrahamsen, Sandra Barreira, Cecilia M. Bitz, Amy Butler, Kyle R. Clem, Steve Colwell, Lawrence Coy, Jos de Laat, Marcel D. du Plessis, Ryan L. Fogt, Helen Amanda Fricker, John Fyfe, Alex S. Gardner, Sarah T. Gille, Tessa Gorte, L. Gregor, Will Hobbs, Bryan Johnson, Eric Keenan, Linda M. Keller, Natalya A. Kramarova, Matthew A. Lazzara, Jan T. M. Lenaerts, Jan L. Lieser, Hongxing Liu, Craig S. Long, Michelle Maclennan, Robert A. Massom, François Massonnet, Matthew R. Mazloff, David Mikolajczyk, A. Narayanan, Eric R. Nash, Paul A. Newman, Irina Petropavlovskikh, Michael Pitts, Bastien Y. Queste, Phillip Reid, F. Roquet, Michelle L. Santee, Susan Strahan, Sebastiann Swart, and Lei Wang
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