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David H. Bromwich and Ryan L. Fogt

Abstract

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalysis (NCEP1) data are compared with Antarctic and other mid- to high-latitude station observations for the complete years of overlap, 1958–2001. Overall, it appears that ERA-40 more closely follows the observations; however, a more detailed look at the presatellite era reveals many shortcomings in ERA-40, particularly in the austral winter.

By calculating statistics in 5-yr moving windows for June–July–August (JJA), it is shown that ERA-40 correlations with observed MSLP and surface (2 m) temperatures are low and even negative during the mid-1960s. A significant trend in skill in ERA-40 is observed in conjunction with the assimilation of satellite data during winter, eventually reaching a high level of skill after 1978 that is superior to NCEP1. NCEP1 shows consistency in its correlation with observations throughout time in this season; however, the biases in the NCEP1 MSLP fields decrease significantly with time. Similar problems are also found in the 500-hPa geopotential height fields above the direct influences of the mountainous topography. The height differences between ERA-40 and NCEP1 over the South Pacific are substantial before the modern satellite era throughout the depth of the troposphere. The ability for ERA-40 to be more strongly constrained by the satellite data compared to NCEP1, which is largely constrained by the station observational network, suggests that the differing assimilation schemes between ERA-40 and NCEP1 lead to the large discrepancies seen here. Thus, both reanalyses must be used with caution over high southern latitudes during the nonsummer months prior to the assimilation of satellite sounding data.

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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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Ryan L. Fogt and David H. Bromwich

Abstract

Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) forecasts of atmospheric moisture and cloud fraction (CF) are compared with observations at McMurdo and Amundsen–Scott South Pole station (hereafter, South Pole station) in Antarctica. Overall, it is found that the model produces excessive moisture at both sites in the mid- to upper troposphere because of a weaker vertical decrease of moisture in AMPS than observed. Correlations with observations suggest AMPS does a reasonable job of capturing the low-level moisture variability at McMurdo and the upper-level moisture variability at South Pole station. The model underpredicts the cloud cover at both locations, but changes to the AMPS empirical CF algorithm remove this negative bias by more than doubling the weight given to the cloud ice path.

A “pseudosatellite” product based on the microphysical quantities of cloud ice and cloud liquid water within AMPS is preliminarily evaluated against Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) imagery during summer to examine the broader performance of cloud variability in AMPS. These comparisons reveal that the model predicts high-level cloud cover and movement with fidelity, which explains the good agreement between the modified CF algorithm and the observed CF. However, this product also demonstrates deficiencies in capturing low-level cloudiness over cold ice surfaces primarily related to insufficient supercooled liquid water produced by the microphysics scheme, which also reduces the CF correlation with observations.

The results suggest that AMPS predicts the overall CF amount and high cloud variability notably well, making it a reliable tool for longer-term climate studies of these fields in Antarctica.

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Ryan L. Fogt and Elizabeth A. Zbacnik

Abstract

Dramatic sea ice loss in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas and regional warming in West Antarctica and the Antarctica Peninsula have been observed over the last few decades. Both of these changes are strongly influenced by the presence of the Amundsen Sea low (ASL), a climatological region of low pressure in the Amundsen Sea. Studies have demonstrated a deepening of the ASL, particularly in austral spring and to a lesser extent autumn, the former related to decreases in the underlying cyclone central pressures and the latter previously suggested to be due to stratospheric ozone depletion.

This study further investigates the sensitivity of the ASL to stratospheric ozone depletion using geopotential height from a suite of chemistry–climate models (CCMs) as well as historical simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Overall, both model types capture the mean characteristics of the ASL, although they have notable positive height biases at 850 hPa and a subdued seasonal cycle in its longitudinal position. Comparing across model simulations, it is observed that there is a pronounced influence of stratospheric ozone depletion in the vicinity of the ASL in the stratosphere through the lower troposphere during austral summer, consistent with the positive phase of the southern annular mode. In the autumn, the authors note a weaker, secondary influence of stratospheric ozone depletion on the ASL only in the CMIP5 simulations.

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Ryan L. Fogt and Alex J. Wovrosh

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that warming trends across West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula and sea ice loss in the adjacent Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas are linked to changes in the regional atmospheric circulation, represented by the Amundsen Sea low (ASL). Importantly, changes in the ASL have similarly been tied to forcing from the tropics. Here, several model simulations from the Community Atmosphere Model, version 4, are investigated in order to understand the relative roles of tropical sea surface temperature variability and radiative forcing on the variations in trends in the ASL. In comparing across the simulations, it is observed that the addition of time-varying extratropical SSTs and sea ice conditions in general have a much smaller impact on the ASL than tropical SSTs or radiative forcing. Tropical forcing alone explains much of the climatological variability and extreme intensities of the ASL (both strong and weak relative central pressures). The role of radiative forcing is best observed in the ASL trends, with this simulation leading to a marked deepening of the ASL and pressures across the Southern Hemisphere that is consistent with atmospheric reanalysis in austral summer. In austral winter, the simulation with radiative forcing produces stronger trends than observed in reanalysis data, perhaps reflecting the need to couple to an ocean–ice model in order to more realistically simulate the ASL changes. Together, the results suggest that models need to include both the effects from tropical SST variations and radiative forcing when understanding historic and future variations in the ASL.

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Ryan L. Fogt and Charlotte J. Connolly

Abstract

Because continuous meteorological observations across Antarctica did not start until the middle of the 20th century, little is known about the full spatial pattern of pressure variability across the extratropical Southern Hemisphere (SH) in the early 20th century, defined here as the period from 1905-1956. To fill this gap, this study analyzes pressure observations across the SH in conjunction with seasonal pressure reconstructions across Antarctica, which are based on observed station-to-station statistical relationships between pressure over Antarctica and the southern midlatitudes. Using this newly generated dataset, it is found that the early 20th century is characterized by synchronous, but opposite signed pressure relationships between Antarctica and the SH midlatitudes, especially in austral summer and autumn. The synchronous pressure relationships are consistent with the Southern Annular Mode, extending its well-known influence on SH extratropical pressure since 1957 into the early 20th century. Apart from connections with the Southern Annular Mode, regional and shorter-duration pressure trends are found to be associated with influences from tropical variability and potentially the zonal wavenumber three pattern. Although the reduced network of SH observations and Antarctic reconstruction capture the Southern Annular Mode in the early 20th century, reanalyses products show varying skill in reproducing trends and variability, especially over the oceans and high southern latitudes prior to 1957, which stresses the importance of continual efforts of historical data rescue in data sparse regions to improve their quality.

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Ryan L. Fogt and Charlotte J. Connolly

Abstract

Because continuous meteorological observations across Antarctica did not start until the middle of the twentieth century, little is known about the full spatial pattern of pressure variability across the extratropical Southern Hemisphere (SH) in the early twentieth century, defined here as the period from 1905 to 1956. To fill this gap, this study analyzes pressure observations across the SH in conjunction with seasonal pressure reconstructions across Antarctica, which are based on observed station-to-station statistical relationships between pressure over Antarctica and the southern midlatitudes. Using this newly generated dataset, it is found that the early twentieth century is characterized by synchronous but opposite-signed pressure relationships between Antarctica and the SH midlatitudes, especially in austral summer and autumn. The synchronous pressure relationships are consistent with the southern annular mode, extending its well-known influence on SH extratropical pressure since 1957 into the early twentieth century. Apart from connections with the southern annular mode, regional and shorter-duration pressure trends are found to be associated with influences from tropical variability and potentially the zonal wavenumber 3 pattern. Although the reduced network of SH observations and Antarctic reconstruction captures the southern annular mode in the early twentieth century, reanalysis products show varying skill in reproducing trends and variability, especially over the oceans and high southern latitudes prior to 1957, which stresses the importance of continual efforts of historical data rescue in data-sparse regions to improve their quality.

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Ryan L. Fogt, Logan N. Clark, and Julien P. Nicolas

Abstract

This study presents a new monthly pressure dataset poleward of 60°S, from 1957 to 2016, based on a kriging interpolation from observed pressure anomalies across the Antarctic continent. Overall, the reconstruction performs well when evaluated against ERA-Interim. In comparison to other reanalyses, the reconstruction has interannual variability after 1970 similar to products that span the entire twentieth century and is a marked improvement on the first-generation reanalysis products. The reconstruction also produces weaker pressure trends than the reanalysis products evaluated here, which are consistent with observations. However, the skill of the reconstruction is weaker in the South Pacific and therefore does not improve the understanding of long-term pressure variability and trends in this region, where circulation changes have been key drivers of climate variability in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula.

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Ryan L. Fogt, Julie M. Jones, and James Renwick

Abstract

The Southern Hemisphere annular mode (SAM) is the dominant mode of climate variability in the extratropical Southern Hemisphere. Representing variations in pressure and the corresponding changes to the circumpolar zonal flow, it is typically thought of as an “annular” or ringlike structure. However, on seasonal time scales the zonal symmetry observed in the SAM in monthly or annual mean data is much less marked. This study further examines the seasonal changes in the SAM structure and explores temperature signals across the Southern Hemisphere that are strongly tied to the asymmetric SAM structure.

The SAM asymmetries are most marked in the Pacific sector and in austral winter and spring, related to changes in the jet entrance and exit regions poleward of 30°S. Depending on the season, the asymmetric SAM structure explains over 25% of the variance in the overall SAM structure and has strong connections with ENSO or zonal wavenumber 3. In austral summer and autumn the SAM has been becoming more zonally symmetric, especially after 1980, perhaps tied to changes in anthropogenic forcing. Across the Pacific sector, including the Antarctic Peninsula, temperature variations are strongly tied to the asymmetric SAM structure, while temperatures across East Antarctica are more strongly tied to the zonally symmetric SAM structure.

The results suggest that studies examining the climate impacts of the SAM across the Southern Hemisphere need to consider the seasonal variations in the SAM structure as well as varying impacts between its positive and negative polarity to adequately describe the underlying relationships.

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Ryan L. Fogt, Megan E. Jones, Susan Solomon, Julie M. Jones, and Chad A. Goergens

Abstract

The meteorological conditions during the Amundsen and Scott South Pole expeditions in 1911/12 are examined using a combination of observations collected during the expeditions as well as modern reanalysis and reconstructed pressure datasets. It is found that over much of this austral summer, pressures were exceptionally high (more than two standard deviations above the climatological mean) at both main bases, as well as along the sledging journeys, especially in December 1911. In conjunction with the anomalously high pressures, Amundsen and his crew experienced temperatures that peaked above –16°C on the polar plateau on 6 December 1911, which is extremely warm for this region. While Scott also encountered unusually warm conditions at this time, the above-average temperatures were accompanied by a wet snowstorm that slowed his progress across the Ross Ice Shelf. Although January 1912 was marked with slightly below-average temperatures and pressure, high temperatures and good conditions were observed in early February 1912, when Scott and his companions were at the top of the Beardmore Glacier. When compared to the anomalously cold temperatures experienced by the Scott polar party in late February and March 1912, the temperature change is in the top 3% based on more than 35 years of reanalysis data. Scott and his companions therefore faced an exceptional decrease in temperature when transiting to the Ross Ice Shelf in February and March 1912, which likely made the persistent cold spell they experienced on the Ross Ice Shelf seem even more intense by comparison.

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