Observations of the Summertime Boundary Layer over the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica Using SUMO UAVs

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 8:00 AM
Melissa A Nigro, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, CO, United States, John J Cassano, Univ Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, Ben Jolly, University of Canterbury, Physics and Astronomy, Christchurch, New Zealand and Adrian McDonald, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
During January 2014 Small Unmanned Meteorological Observer (SUMO) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were used to observe the boundary layer over the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. A total of 41 SUMO flights were completed during a 9-day period with a maximum of 11 flights during a single day. Flights occurred as frequently as every 1.5 hours so that the time evolution of the boundary layer could be documented. On almost all of the flights the boundary layer was well mixed from the surface to a depth of less than 50 m to over 350 m. The depth of the well-mixed layer was observed to both increase and decrease over the course of an individual day suggesting that processes other than entrainment were altering the boundary layer depth. The well-mixed layer was observed to both warm and cool during the field campaign indicating that advective processes as well as surface fluxes were acting to control the temporal evolution of the boundary layer temperature. Only a small number of weakly stably stratified boundary layers were observed. Strong, shallow inversions, of up to 6 K, were observed above the top of the boundary layer. Observations from a 30 m automatic weather station and two temporary automatic weather stations 10 km south and west of the main field campaign location provide additional data for understanding the boundary layer evolution observed by the SUMO UAVs during this 9-day period. This presentation will discuss the observed evolution of the summertime boundary layer as well as comment on lessons learned operating the SUMO UAVs at a remote Antarctic field camp.