Low-Level Temperature Inversions of the Eurasian Arctic and Comparisons with Soviet Drifting Station Data

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Division of Cryospheric and Polar Processes, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Geosciences. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Division of Cryospheric and Polar Processes, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Seasonal and regional variations in characteristics of the Arctic low-level temperature inversion are examined using up to 12 years of twice-daily rawinsonde data from 31 inland and coastal sites of the Eurasian Arctic and a total of nearly six station years of data from three Soviet drifting stations near the North Pole. The frequency of inversions, the median inversion depth, and the temperature difference across the inversion layer increase from the Norwegian Sea eastward toward the Laptev and East Siberian seas. This effect is most pronounced in winter and autumn, and reflects proximity to oceanic influences and synoptic activity, possibly enhanced by a gradient in cloud cover. East of Novaya Zemlya during winter, inversions are found in over 95% of all soundings and tend to be surface based. For all locations, however, inversions tend to he most intense during winter due to the large deficit in surface net radiation. The strongest inversions are found over eastern Siberia, and reflect the effects of local topography. The frequency of inversions is lowest during summer, but is still >50% at all locations. Most summer inversions are elevated, and are much weaker than their winter counterparts. Data from the drifting stations reveal an inversion in every sounding from December to April. The minimum frequency of 85% occurs during August. While the median inversion depth is over 1200 m during March, it decreases to approximately 400 m during August, with median temperature differences across the inversion layer of 12.6° and 2.8°C, respectively. The median depth of the summertime mixed layer below inversions at the drifting stations ranges from 300 to 400 m. Seasonal changes in these inversion characteristics show a strong relationship with seasonal changes in cloud cover.

Abstract

Seasonal and regional variations in characteristics of the Arctic low-level temperature inversion are examined using up to 12 years of twice-daily rawinsonde data from 31 inland and coastal sites of the Eurasian Arctic and a total of nearly six station years of data from three Soviet drifting stations near the North Pole. The frequency of inversions, the median inversion depth, and the temperature difference across the inversion layer increase from the Norwegian Sea eastward toward the Laptev and East Siberian seas. This effect is most pronounced in winter and autumn, and reflects proximity to oceanic influences and synoptic activity, possibly enhanced by a gradient in cloud cover. East of Novaya Zemlya during winter, inversions are found in over 95% of all soundings and tend to be surface based. For all locations, however, inversions tend to he most intense during winter due to the large deficit in surface net radiation. The strongest inversions are found over eastern Siberia, and reflect the effects of local topography. The frequency of inversions is lowest during summer, but is still >50% at all locations. Most summer inversions are elevated, and are much weaker than their winter counterparts. Data from the drifting stations reveal an inversion in every sounding from December to April. The minimum frequency of 85% occurs during August. While the median inversion depth is over 1200 m during March, it decreases to approximately 400 m during August, with median temperature differences across the inversion layer of 12.6° and 2.8°C, respectively. The median depth of the summertime mixed layer below inversions at the drifting stations ranges from 300 to 400 m. Seasonal changes in these inversion characteristics show a strong relationship with seasonal changes in cloud cover.

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