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Marian E. Mateling, Matthew A. Lazzara, Linda M. Keller, George A. Weidner, and John J. Cassano

Abstract

Because of the harsh weather conditions on the Antarctic continent, year-round observations of the low-level boundary layer must be obtained via automated data acquisition systems. Alexander Tall Tower! is an automatic weather station on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and has been operational since February 2011. At 30 m tall, this station has six levels of instruments to collect environmental data, including temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, and pressure. Data are collected at 30-, 15-, 7.5-, 4-, 2-, and 1-m levels above the snow surface. This study identifies short-term trends and provides an improved description of the lowest portion of the boundary layer over this portion of the Ross Ice Shelf for the February 2011–January 2014 period. Observations indicate two separate initiations of the winter season occur annually, caused by synoptic-scale anomalies. Sensible and latent heat flux estimates are computed using Monin–Obukhov similarity theory and vertical profiles of potential air temperature and wind speed. Over the three years, the monthly mean sensible heat flux ranges between 1 and 39 W m−2 (toward the surface) and the monthly mean latent heat flux ranges between −8 and 0 W m−2. Net heat fluxes directed toward the surface occur most of the year, indicating an atmospheric sink of energy.

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Jonathan D. Wille, David H. Bromwich, Melissa A. Nigro, John J. Cassano, Marian Mateling, Matthew A. Lazzara, and Sheng-Hung Wang

Abstract

Flight operations in Antarctica rely on accurate weather forecasts aided by the numerical predictions primarily produced by the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) that employs the polar version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (Polar WRF) Model. To improve the performance of the model’s Mellor–Yamada–Janjić (MYJ) planetary boundary layer (PBL) scheme, this study examines 1.5 yr of meteorological data provided by the 30-m Alexander Tall Tower! (ATT) automatic weather station on the western Ross Ice Shelf from March 2011 to July 2012. Processed ATT observations at 10-min intervals from the multiple observational levels are compared with the 5-km-resolution AMPS forecasts run daily at 0000 and 1200 UTC. The ATT comparison shows that AMPS has fundamental issues with moisture and handling stability as a function of wind speed. AMPS has a 10-percentage-point (i.e., RH unit) relative humidity dry bias year-round that is highest when katabatic winds from the Byrd and Mulock Glaciers exceed 15 m s−1. This is likely due to nonlocal effects such as errors in the moisture content of the katabatic flow and AMPS not parameterizing the sublimation from blowing snow. AMPS consistently overestimates the wind speed at the ATT by 1–2 m s−1, in agreement with previous studies that attribute the high wind speed bias to the MYJ scheme. This leads to reduced stability in the simulated PBL, thus affecting the model’s ability to properly simulate the transfer of heat and momentum throughout the PBL.

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Jonathan D. Wille, David H. Bromwich, John J. Cassano, Melissa A. Nigro, Marian E. Mateling, and Matthew A. Lazzara

Abstract

Accurately predicting moisture and stability in the Antarctic planetary boundary layer (PBL) is essential for low-cloud forecasts, especially when Antarctic forecasters often use relative humidity as a proxy for cloud cover. These forecasters typically rely on the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) Polar Weather Research and Forecasting (Polar WRF) Model for high-resolution forecasts. To complement the PBL observations from the 30-m Alexander Tall Tower! (ATT) on the Ross Ice Shelf as discussed in a recent paper by Wille and coworkers, a field campaign was conducted at the ATT site from 13 to 26 January 2014 using Small Unmanned Meteorological Observer (SUMO) aerial systems to collect PBL data. The 3-km-resolution AMPS forecast output is combined with the global European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts interim reanalysis (ERAI), SUMO flights, and ATT data to describe atmospheric conditions on the Ross Ice Shelf. The SUMO comparison showed that AMPS had an average 2–3 m s−1 high wind speed bias from the near surface to 600 m, which led to excessive mechanical mixing and reduced stability in the PBL. As discussed in previous Polar WRF studies, the Mellor–Yamada–Janjić PBL scheme is likely responsible for the high wind speed bias. The SUMO comparison also showed a near-surface 10–15-percentage-point dry relative humidity bias in AMPS that increased to a 25–30-percentage-point deficit from 200 to 400 m above the surface. A large dry bias at these critical heights for aircraft operations implies poor AMPS low-cloud forecasts. The ERAI showed that the katabatic flow from the Transantarctic Mountains is unrealistically dry in AMPS.

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Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Brian J. Drouin, James Anheuser, Meredith Grames, David S. Henderson, Xianglei Huang, Brian H. Kahn, Jennifer E. Kay, Boon H. Lim, Marian Mateling, Aronne Merrelli, Nathaniel B. Miller, Sharmila Padmanabhan, Colten Peterson, Nicole-Jeanne Schlegel, Mary L. White, and Yan Xie

Abstract

Earth’s climate is strongly influenced by energy deficits at the poles that emit more thermal energy than they receive from the sun. Energy exchanges between the surface and atmosphere influence the local environment while heat transport from lower latitudes drives midlatitude atmospheric and oceanic circulations. In the Arctic, in particular, local energy imbalances induce strong seasonality in surface–atmosphere heat exchanges and an acute sensitivity to forced climate variations. Despite these important local and global influences, the largest contributions to the polar atmospheric and surface energy budgets have not been fully characterized. The spectral variation of far-infrared radiation that makes up 60% of polar thermal emission has never been systematically measured impeding progress toward consensus in predicted rates of Arctic warming, sea ice decline, and ice sheet melt. Enabled by recent advances in sensor miniaturization and CubeSat technology, the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will document, for the first time, the spectral, spatial, and temporal variations of polar far-infrared emission. Selected under NASA’s Earth Ventures Instrument (EVI) program, PREFIRE will utilize new lightweight, low-power, ambient temperature detectors capable of measuring at wavelengths up to 50 μm to quantify Earth’s far-infrared spectrum. Estimates of spectral surface emissivity, water vapor, cloud properties, and the atmospheric greenhouse effect derived from these measurements offer the potential to advance our understanding of the factors that modulate thermal fluxes in the cold, dry conditions characteristic of the polar regions.

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Mark S. Kulie, Claire Pettersen, Aronne J. Merrelli, Timothy J. Wagner, Norman B. Wood, Michael Dutter, David Beachler, Todd Kluber, Robin Turner, Marian Mateling, John Lenters, Peter Blanken, Maximilian Maahn, Christopher Spence, Stefan Kneifel, Paul A. Kucera, Ali Tokay, Larry F. Bliven, David B. Wolff, and Walter A. Petersen

Abstract

A multisensor snowfall observational suite has been deployed at the Marquette, Michigan, National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office (KMQT) since 2014. Micro Rain Radar (MRR; profiling radar), Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP; snow particle imager), and ancillary ground-based meteorological observations illustrate the unique capabilities of these combined instruments to document radar and concomitant microphysical properties associated with northern Great Lakes snowfall regimes. Lake-effect, lake-orographic, and transition event case studies are presented that illustrate the variety of snowfall events that occur at KMQT. Case studies and multiyear analyses reveal the ubiquity of snowfall produced by shallow events. These shallow snowfall features and their distinctive microphysical fingerprints are often difficult to discern with conventional remote sensing instruments, thus highlighting the scientific and potential operational value of MRR and PIP observations. The importance of near-surface lake-orographic snowfall enhancement processes in extreme snowfall events and regime-dependent snow particle microphysical variability controlled by regime and environmental factors are also highlighted.

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