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Steven Colwell and John Turner


An assessment is made of the availability of Antarctic synoptic observations on the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Telecommunication System (GTS) during the trial periods (5–9 July 1993 and 1–15 February 1994) and winter and summer special observing periods (SOPs) (July 1994 and January 1995) of the Antarctic First Regional Observing Study of the Troposphere project. The data collected at two nodes of the GTS—Melbourne, Australia, and Bracknell, United Kingdom—are considered. Data received at Melbourne were passed on to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in Hobart and those received at Bracknell were passed similarly on to Cambridge. The trial periods showed that there were large differences in the number of surface observations received at the two nodes. Although Hobart always received more upper-air data than Cambridge, the reverse was true with automatic weather station (AWS) data. The experience from the SOPs indicates that there are now almost 50% more AWS observations on the GTS than surface observations from the staffed stations.

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Hamish D. Pritchard, Daniel Farinotti, and Steven Colwell


The seasonal snowpack is a globally important water resource that is notoriously difficult to measure. Existing instruments make measurements of falling or accumulating snow water equivalent (SWE) that are susceptible to bias, and most represent only a point in the landscape. Furthermore the global array of SWE sensors is too sparse and too poorly distributed to adequately constrain snow in weather and climate models. We present a new approach to monitoring snowpack SWE from time series of lake water pressure. We tested our method in the lowland Finnish Arctic and in an alpine valley and high-mountain cirque in Switzerland, and found that we could measure changes in SWE and their uncertainty through snowfalls with little bias and with an uncertainty comparable to or better than that achievable by other instruments. More importantly, our method inherently senses change over the whole lake surface, an area in this study up to 10.95 km2 or 274 million times larger than the nearest pluviometer. This large scale makes our measurements directly comparable to the grid cells of weather and climate models. We find, for example, snowfall biases of up to 100% in operational forecast models AROME-Arctic and COSMO-1. Seasonally-frozen lakes are widely distributed at high latitudes and are particularly common in mountain ranges, hence our new method is particularly well suited to the widespread, autonomous monitoring of snow-water resources in remote areas that are largely unmonitored today. This is potentially transformative in reducing uncertainty in regional precipitation and runoff in seasonally-cold climates.

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John Turner, David Bromwich, Steven Colwell, Stephen Dixon, Tim Gibson, Terry Hart, Günther Heinemann, Hugh Hutchinson, Kieran Jacka, Steven Leonard, Michael Lieder, Lawrie Marsh, Stephen Pendlebury, Henry Phillpot, Mike Pook, and Ian Simmonds

An account is given of the Antarctic First Regional Observing Study of the Troposphere (FROST) project, which has been organized by the Physics and Chemistry of the Atmosphere Group of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. The goals of FROST are to study the meteorology of the Antarctic, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of operational analyses and forecasts over the continent and in the surrounding ocean areas, and to assess the value of new forms of satellite data that are becoming available. FROST is based around three one-month Special Observing Periods (SOPs)—July 1994, 16 October–15 November 1994, and January 1995 for which comprehensive datasets have been established of model fields and in situ and satellite observations. High quality manual surface and upper-air analyses are being prepared for these periods to determine the extent to which non–Global Telecommunications System data can improve the interpretation of the synoptic situation. Over the ocean areas during SOP-1, incorporation of the late data resulted only in a limited improvement in the analyses, indicating that the models are correctly analyzing most of the major weather systems. Over the continent, the production of 500-hPa heights from the automatic weather station data greatly helped in the analysis process. The lack of data around west Antarctica was a major handicap in the analysis process. The rms errors in the forecasts of 500-hPa height for the Antarctic were about 20% greater than those for midlatitude areas. The forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts were the most accurate of those received.

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David H. Bromwich, Kirstin Werner, Barbara Casati, Jordan G. Powers, Irina V. Gorodetskaya, François Massonnet, Vito Vitale, Victoria J. Heinrich, Daniela Liggett, Stefanie Arndt, Boris Barja, Eric Bazile, Scott Carpentier, Jorge F. Carrasco, Taejin Choi, Yonghan Choi, Steven R. Colwell, Raul R. Cordero, Massimo Gervasi, Thomas Haiden, Naohiko Hirasawa, Jun Inoue, Thomas Jung, Heike Kalesse, Seong-Joong Kim, Matthew A. Lazzara, Kevin W. Manning, Kimberley Norris, Sang-Jong Park, Phillip Reid, Ignatius Rigor, Penny M. Rowe, Holger Schmithüsen, Patric Seifert, Qizhen Sun, Taneil Uttal, Mario Zannoni, and Xun Zou


The Year of Polar Prediction in the Southern Hemisphere (YOPP-SH) had a special observing period (SOP) that ran from 16 November 2018 to 15 February 2019, a period chosen to span the austral warm season months of greatest operational activity in the Antarctic. Some 2,200 additional radiosondes were launched during the 3-month SOP, roughly doubling the routine program, and the network of drifting buoys in the Southern Ocean was enhanced. An evaluation of global model forecasts during the SOP and using its data has confirmed that extratropical Southern Hemisphere forecast skill lags behind that in the Northern Hemisphere with the contrast being greatest between the southern and northern polar regions. Reflecting the application of the SOP data, early results from observing system experiments show that the additional radiosondes yield the greatest forecast improvement for deep cyclones near the Antarctic coast. The SOP data have been applied to provide insights on an atmospheric river event during the YOPP-SH SOP that presented a challenging forecast and that impacted southern South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. YOPP-SH data have also been applied in determinations that seasonal predictions by coupled atmosphere–ocean–sea ice models struggle to capture the spatial and temporal characteristics of the Antarctic sea ice minimum. Education, outreach, and communication activities have supported the YOPP-SH SOP efforts. Based on the success of this Antarctic summer YOPP-SH SOP, a winter YOPP-SH SOP is being organized to support explorations of Antarctic atmospheric predictability in the austral cold season when the southern sea ice cover is rapidly expanding.

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