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Esa-Matti Tastula and Timo Vihma

Abstract

The standard and polar versions 3.1.1 of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, both initialized by the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40), were run in Antarctica for July 1998. Four different boundary layer–surface layer–radiation scheme combinations were used in the standard WRF. The model results were validated against observations of the 2-m temperature, surface pressure, and 10-m wind speed at 9 coastal and 2 inland stations. The best choice for boundary layer and radiation parameterizations of the standard WRF turned out to be the Yonsei University boundary layer scheme in conjunction with the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5) surface layer scheme and the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model for longwave radiation. The respective temperature bias was on the order of 3°C less than the biases obtained with the other combinations. Increasing the minimum value for eddy diffusivity did, however, improve the performance of the asymmetric convective scheme by 0.8°C. Averaged over the 11 stations, the error growths in 24-h forecasts were almost identical for the standard and Polar WRF, but in 9-day forecasts Polar WRF gave a smaller 2-m temperature bias. For the Vostok station, however, the standard WRF gave a less positively biased 24-h temperature forecast. On average, the polar version gave the least biased surface pressure simulation. The wind speed simulation was characterized by low correlation values, especially under weak winds and for stations surrounded by complex topography.

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Teresa Valkonen, Timo Vihma, and Martin Doble

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Atmospheric flow over Antarctic sea ice was simulated applying a polar version of the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (Polar MM5). The simulation period in late autumn lasted for 48 h, starting as northerly warm airflow over the Weddell Sea ice cover and turning to a southwesterly cold-air outbreak. The model results were validated against atmospheric pressure and wind and air temperature observations made by five buoys drifting with the sea ice. Four different satellite-derived sea ice concentration datasets were applied to provide lower boundary conditions for Polar MM5. During the period of the cold-air outbreak, the modeled air temperatures were highly sensitive to the sea ice concentration: the largest differences in the modeled 2-m air temperature reached 13°C. The experiments applying sea ice concentration data based on the bootstrap and Arctic Radiation and Turbulence Interaction Study (ARTIST) algorithms yielded the best agreement with observations. The cumulative fetch over open water correlated with the bias of the modeled air temperature. The sea ice concentration data affected the simulated air temperature in the lower atmospheric boundary layer, but above it the temperature and wind fields were more strongly controlled by the boundary layer scheme applied in Polar MM5. Analysis nudging applying four-dimensional data assimilation had a positive effect on the pressure and wind fields but negative or no effect on the air temperature fields. The results suggest that applying a sea ice model to update sea ice fields frequently throughout atmospheric model simulations will likely lead to important improvements in forecasts.

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Tiina Nygård, Teresa Valkonen, and Timo Vihma

Abstract

Humidity inversions are nearly permanently present in the coastal Antarctic atmosphere. This is shown based on an investigation of statistical characteristics of humidity inversions at 11 Antarctic coastal stations using radiosonde data from the Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive (IGRA) from 2000 to 2009. The humidity inversion occurrence was highest in winter and spring, and high atmospheric pressure and cloud-free conditions generally increased the occurrence. A typical humidity inversion was less than 200 m deep and 0.2 g kg−1 strong, and a typical humidity profile contained several separate inversion layers. The inversion base height had notable seasonal variations, but generally the humidity inversions were located at higher altitudes than temperature inversions. Roughly half of the humidity inversions were associated with temperature inversions, especially near the surface, and humidity and temperature inversion strengths as well as depths correlated at several stations. On the other hand, approximately 60% of the humidity inversions were accompanied by horizontal advection of water vapor increasing with height, which is also a probable factor supporting humidity inversions. The spatial variability of humidity inversions was linked to the topography and the water vapor content of the air. Compared to previous results for the Arctic, the most striking differences in humidity inversions in the Antarctic were a much higher frequency of occurrence in summer, at least under clear skies, and a reverse seasonal cycle of the inversion height. The results can be used as a baseline for validation of weather prediction and climate models and for studies addressing changes in atmospheric moisture budget in the Antarctic.

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Tuomas Naakka, Tiina Nygård, and Timo Vihma

Abstract

The occurrence and characteristics of Arctic specific humidity inversions (SHIs) were examined on the basis of two reanalyses (ERA-Interim and JRA-55) and radiosonde sounding data from 2003 to 2014. Based on physical properties, the SHIs were divided into two main categories: SHIs below and above the 800-hPa level. Above the 800-hPa level, SHIs occurred simultaneously with relative humidity inversions and without the presence of a temperature inversion; these SHIs were probably formed when a moist air mass was advected over a dry air mass. SHIs below the 800-hPa level occurred simultaneously with temperature inversions in conditions of high relative humidity, which suggests that condensation had an important role in SHI formation. Below the 800-hPa level, SHI occurrence had a large seasonal and spatial variation, which depended on the surface heat budget. In winter, most SHIs were formed because of surface radiative cooling, and the occurrence of SHIs was high (even exceeding 90% of the time) on continents and over the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. In summer, the occurrence of SHIs was highest (70%–90%) over the coastal Arctic Ocean, where SHIs were generated by warm and moist air advection over a cold sea surface. In the reanalyses, the strongest SHIs occurred in summer over the Arctic Ocean. The comparisons between radiosonde soundings and the reanalyses showed that the main features of the seasonal and spatial variation of SHI occurrence and SHI strength were well represented in the reanalyses, but SHI strength was underestimated.

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Kimmo Ruosteenoja, Timo Vihma, and Ari Venäläinen

Abstract

Future changes in geostrophic winds over Europe and the North Atlantic region were studied utilizing output data from 21 CMIP5 global climate models (GCMs). Changes in temporal means, extremes, and the joint distribution of speed and direction were considered. In concordance with previous research, the time mean and extreme scalar wind speeds do not change pronouncedly in response to the projected climate change; some degree of weakening occurs in the majority of the domain. Nevertheless, substantial changes in high wind speeds are identified when studying the geostrophic winds from different directions separately. In particular, in northern Europe in autumn and in parts of northwestern Europe in winter, the frequency of strong westerly winds is projected to increase by up to 50%. Concurrently, easterly winds become less common. In addition, we evaluated the potential of the GCMs to simulate changes in the near-surface true wind speeds. In ocean areas, changes in the true and geostrophic winds are mainly consistent and the emerging differences can be explained (e.g., by the retreat of Arctic sea ice). Conversely, in several GCMs the continental wind speed response proved to be predominantly determined by fairly arbitrary changes in the surface properties rather than by changes in the atmospheric circulation. Accordingly, true wind projections derived directly from the model output should be treated with caution since they do not necessarily reflect the actual atmospheric response to global warming.

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Tiina Nygård, Tuomas Naakka, and Timo Vihma

Abstract

Along with the amplified warming and dramatic sea ice decline, the Arctic has experienced regionally and seasonally variable moistening of the atmosphere. Based on reanalysis data, this study demonstrates that the regional moistening patterns during the last four decades, 1979–2018, were predominantly shaped by the strong trends in horizontal moisture transport. Our results suggest that the trends in moisture transport were largely driven by changes in atmospheric circulation. Trends in evaporation in the Arctic had a smaller role in shaping the moistening patterns. Both horizontal moisture transport and local evaporation have been affected by the diminishing sea ice cover during the cold seasons from autumn to spring. Increases in evaporation have been restricted to the vicinity of the sea ice margin over a limited period during the local sea ice decline. For the first time we demonstrate that, after the sea ice has disappeared from a region, evaporation over the open sea has had negative trends due to the effect of horizontal moisture transport to suppress evaporation. Near the sea ice margin, the trends in moisture transport and evaporation and the cloud response to those have been circulation dependent. The future moisture and cloud distributions in the Arctic are expected to respond to changes in atmospheric pressure patterns; circulation and moisture transport will also control where and when efficient surface evaporation can occur.

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Liisi Jakobson, Timo Vihma, and Erko Jakobson

Abstract

NCEP CFSR reanalysis 6-hourly fields from 1979 to 2015 were used to investigate the relationships of sea ice concentration (SIC), atmospheric stratification, surface roughness, and wind speed at 10-m height (W10) and 850-hPa level (W850). We found that in autumn (September–November), winter (December–February), and spring (March–May) a lower SIC favors less-stable stratification and a higher W10. In autumn, the decrease in SIC is strongest, and SIC has its strongest correlation with the atmospheric stratification, W10, and the ratio of W10 and W850 (WSR). W10 and WSR have increased in autumn, and the negative trends in SIC typically are collocated with positive trends in W10 and WSR. In winter, W850 has negative trends over the Arctic Ocean, which, together with the lack of decrease of SIC in the central Arctic, has prevented W10 from increasing in winter. The winter trends are notably different from those for autumn, but the correlations are fairly similar. In autumn, winter, and spring, the negative correlation between SIC and W10 originated from the reduction of both stratification and aerodynamic surface roughness z 0 with a reduction of SIC. The dependence of z 0 on SIC is, however, weak in NCEP CFSR. In summer, the ratio of W10 and W850 has increased over large areas. The correlations between SIC and atmospheric variables were stronger on interannual time scales than on subseasonal time scales. The causal relationships are complicated by the two-way interaction between SIC and W10. In most cases, especially in summer, SIC increases after periods of W10 exceeding 5 m s−1.

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Rostislav Kouznetsov, Priit Tisler, Timo Palo, and Timo Vihma

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The three-axis “Latan-3” Doppler sodar was operated near the Finnish Antarctic station Aboa in Dronning Maud Land (73.04°S, 13.40°W) in the austral summer of 2010/11. The measuring site is located at a practically flat, slightly sloped (about 1%) surface of the glacier. The sodar was operated in multiple-frequency parallel mode with 20–800-m sounding range, 20-m vertical resolution, and 10-s temporal resolution. To reveal the wind and temperature profiles below the sounding range as well as turbulent fluxes at 2 and 10 m, the data from a 10-m meteorological mast were used. During the measurements, the atmospheric boundary layer was within the sounding range of the sodar most of the time. Despite a large variety of observed sodar echo patterns and wind speed profiles, several cases of clear steady katabatic flows were observed. Practically all of them were easterly, whereas the uphill direction is southern. The thickness of the katabatic flow varied from a few tens to several hundreds of meters; the wind speed maximum could be as low as 5 m. Thin katabatic flows had lower wind speed and much stronger temperature gradients (up to 1 K m−1) but had smaller surface heat flux than did the thicker ones.

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Esa-Matti Tastula, Timo Vihma, and Edgar L Andreas

Abstract

Regional simulations of the atmospheric boundary layer over Antarctic sea ice that have been adequately validated are rare. To address this gap, the authors use the doubly nested Polar Weather Research and Forecasting (Polar WRF) mesoscale model to simulate conditions during Ice Station Weddell (ISW) in the austral autumn and winter of 1992. The WRF simulations test two boundary layer schemes: Mellor–Yamada–Janjic and the Asymmetric Convective Model. Validation is against surface-layer and sounding observations from ISW. Simulated latent and sensible heat fluxes for both boundary layer schemes had poor correlation with the observed fluxes. Simulated surface temperature had better correlation with the observations, with a typical bias of 0–2 K and a root-mean-square error of 6–7 K. For surface temperature and wind speed, the Polar WRF yielded better results than the ECMWF Re-Analysis Interim (ERA-Interim). A more challenging test of the simulations is to reproduce features of the low-level jet and the temperature inversion, which were observed, respectively, in 80% and 96% of the ISW radiosoundings. Both boundary layer schemes produce only about half as many jets as were observed. Moreover, the simulated jet coincided with an observed jet only about 30% of the time. The number of temperature inversions and the height at the inversion base were better reproduced, although this was not the case with the depth of the inversion layer. Simulations of the temperature inversion improved when forecasts of cloud fraction agreed to within 0.3 with observations. The modeled inversions were strongest when the incoming longwave radiation was smallest, but this relationship was not observed at ISW.

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Lejiang Yu, Qinghua Yang, Timo Vihma, Svetlana Jagovkina, Jiping Liu, Qizhen Sun, and Yubin Li

Abstract

Observed daily precipitation data were used to investigate the characteristics of precipitation at Antarctic Progress Station and synoptic patterns associated with extreme precipitation events during the period 2003–16. The annual precipitation, annual number of extreme precipitation events, and amount of precipitation during the extreme events have positive trends. The distribution of precipitation at Progress Station is heavily skewed with a long tail of extreme dry days and a high peak of extreme wet days. The synoptic pattern associated with extreme precipitation events is a dipole structure of negative and positive height anomalies to the west and east of Progress Station, respectively, resulting in water vapor advection to the station. For the first time, we apply self-organizing maps (SOMs) to examine thermodynamic and dynamic perspectives of trends in the frequency of occurrence of Antarctic extreme precipitation events. The changes in thermodynamic (noncirculation) processes explain 80% of the trend, followed by the changes in the interaction between thermodynamic and dynamic processes, which account for nearly 25% of the trend. The changes in dynamic processes make a negative (less than 5%) contribution to the trend. The positive trend in total column water vapor over the Southern Ocean explains the change of thermodynamic term.

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