Ocean-Atmosphere Environments of Antarctic-Region Cold-Air Mesocyclones: Evaluation of Reanalyses for Contrasting Adjacent 10-Day Periods (“Macro-Weather”) in Winter.

Monday, 14 December 2015: 11:35
3012 (Moscone West)
Andrew Mark Carleton1, Jeff Auger2, Sean D Birkel2, Kirk Allen Maasch3, Paul Andrew Mayewski4 and Chantal Claud5, (1)Pennsylvania State University Main Campus, University Park, PA, United States, (2)University of Maine, Orono, ME, United States, (3)Univ Maine, Orono, ME, United States, (4)University of Maine, Climate Change Institute, Orono, ME, United States, (5)Ecole Polytechnique, Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique, Palaiseau, France
Mesoscale cyclones in cold-air outbreaks (mesocyclones) feature in the weather and climate of the Antarctic (e.g., Ross Sea) and sub-antarctic (Drake Passage). They adversely impact field operations, and influence snowfall, the ice-sheet mass balance, and sea-air energy fluxes. Although individual mesocyclones are poorly represented on reanalyses, these datasets robustly depict the upper-ocean and troposphere environments in which multiple mesocyclones typically form. A spatial metric of mesocyclone activity—the Meso-Cyclogenesis Potential (MCP)—used ERA-40 anomaly fields of: sea surface temperature (SST) minus marine air temperature (MAT), near-surface winds, 500 hPa air temperature, and the sea-ice edge location. MCP maps composited by teleconnection phases for 1979-2001, broadly correspond to short-period satellite “climatologies” of mesocyclones. Here, we assess 3 reanalysis datasets (CFSR, ERA-I and MERRA) for their reliably to depict MCP patterns on weekly to sub-monthly periods marked by strong regional shifts in mesocyclone activity (frequencies, track densities) occurring during a La Niña winter: June 21-30, 1999 (SE Indian Ocean) and September 1-10, 1999 (Ross Sea sector). All reanalyses depict the marked variations in upper ocean and atmosphere variables between adjacent 10-day periods. Slight differences may owe to model resolution or internal components (land surface, coupled ocean models), and/or how the observations are assimilated. For June 21-30, positive SST-MAT, southerly winds, proximity to the ice edge, and negative T500, accompany increased meso-cyclogenesis. However, for September 1-10, surface forcing does not explain frequent comma cloud “polar lows” north-east of the Ross Sea. Inclusion of the upper-level diffluence (e.g., from Z300 field) in the MCP metric, better depicts the observed mesocyclone activity. MCP patterns on these “macro-weather” time scales appear relatively insensitive to the choice of reanalysis.