The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is losing mass at an increasing rate yet mass gain from snowfall still exceeds the loss attributed to surface melt processes on an annual basis. This work assesses the relationship between persistent atmospheric blocking across the Euro‐Atlantic region and enhanced precipitation processes over the central GrIS during June–August and September–November. Results show that the vast majority of snowfall events in the central GrIS coincide with Euro‐Atlantic blocking. During June–August, snowfall events are produced primarily by mixed‐phase clouds (88%) and are linked to a persistent blocking anticyclone over southern Greenland (84%). The blocking anticyclone slowly advects warm, moist air masses into western and southern Greenland, with positive temperature and water vapor anomalies that intensify over the central GrIS. A zonal integrated water vapor transport pattern south of Greenland indicates a southern shift of the North Atlantic storm track associated with the high‐latitude blocking. In contrast, snowfall events during September–November are largely produced by ice‐phase clouds (85%) and are associated with a blocking anticyclone over the Nordic Seas and blocked flow over northern Europe (78%). The blocking anticyclone deflects the westerly North Atlantic storm track poleward and enables the rapid transport of warm, moist air masses up the steep southeastern edge of the GrIS, with positive temperature and water vapor anomalies to the east and southeast of Greenland. These results emphasize the critical role of Euro‐Atlantic blocking in promoting snowfall processes over the central GrIS and the importance of accurate representation of blocking in climate model projections.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
null (Ed.)This article sets the near-surface meteorological conditions during the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate expedition in the context of the interannual variability and extremes within the past 4 decades. Hourly ERA5 reanalysis data for the Polarstern trajectory for 1979–2020 are analyzed. The conditions were relatively normal given that they were mostly within the interquartile range of the preceding 4 decades. Nevertheless, some anomalous and even record-breaking conditions did occur, particularly during synoptic events. Extreme cases of warm, moist air transported from the northern North Atlantic or northwestern Siberia into the Arctic were identified from late fall until early spring. Daily temperature and total column water vapor were classified as being among the top-ranking warmest/wettest days or even record-breaking based on the full record. Associated with this, the longwave radiative fluxes at the surface were extremely anomalous for these winter cases. The winter and spring period was characterized by more frequent storm events and median cyclone intensity ranking in the top 25th percentile of the full record. During summer, near melting point conditions were more than a month longer than usual, and the July and August 2020 mean conditions were the all-time warmest and wettest. These record conditions near the Polarstern were embedded in large positive temperature and moisture anomalies over the whole central Arctic. In contrast, unusually cold conditions occurred during the beginning of November 2019 and in early March 2020, related to the Arctic Oscillation. In March, this was linked with anomalously strong and persistent northerly winds associated with frequent cyclone occurrence to the southeast of the Polarstern.more » « less
Atmospheric rivers (ARs) manifest as transient filaments of intense water vapor transport that contribute to synoptic‐scale extremes and interannual variability of precipitation. Despite these influences, the synoptic‐ to planetary‐scale processes that lead to ARs remain inadequately understood. In this study, North Pacific ARs within the November–April season are objectively identified in both reanalysis data and the Community Earth System Model Version 2, and atmospheric patterns preceding AR landfalls beyond 1 week in advance are examined. Latitudinal dependence of the AR processes is investigated by sampling events near the Oregon (45°N, 230°E) and southern California (35°N, 230°E) coasts. Oregon ARs exhibit a pronounced anticyclone emerging over Alaska 1–2 weeks before AR landfall that migrates westward into Siberia, dual midlatitude cyclones developing over southeast coastal Asia and the northeast Pacific, and a zonally elongated band of enhanced water vapor transport spanning the entire North Pacific basin that guides anomalous moisture toward the North American west coast. The precursor high‐latitude anticyclone corresponds to a significant increase in atmospheric blocking probability, suppressed synoptic eddy activity, and an equatorward‐shifted storm track. Southern California ARs also exhibit high‐latitude blocking but have an earlier‐developing and more intense northeast Pacific cyclone. Compared to reanalysis, Community Earth System Model Version 2 underestimates Northeast Pacific AR frequencies by 5–20% but generally captures AR precursor patterns well, particularly for Oregon ARs. Collectively, these results indicate that the identified precursor patterns represent physical processes that are central to ARs and are not simply an artifact of statistical analysis.
Abstract. Understanding the role of atmospheric circulation anomalies on the surfacemass balance of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is fundamental for improvingestimates of its current and future contributions to sea level rise. Here,we show, using a combination of remote sensing observations, regionalclimate model outputs, reanalysis data, and artificial neural networks, thatunprecedented atmospheric conditions (1948–2019) occurring in the summerof 2019 over Greenland promoted new record or close-to-record values ofsurfacemass balance (SMB), runoff, and snowfall. Specifically, runoff in 2019 ranked second withinthe 1948–2019 period (after 2012) and first in terms of surface massbalance negative anomaly for the hydrological year 1 September 2018–31 August 2019. The summer of 2019 was characterized by an exceptionalpersistence of anticyclonic conditions that, in conjunction with low albedoassociated with reduced snowfall in summer, enhanced the melt–albedofeedback by promoting the absorption of solar radiation and favoredadvection of warm, moist air along the western portion of the ice sheettowards the north, where the surface melt has been the highest since 1948.The analysis of the frequency of daily 500 hPa geopotential heights obtainedfrom artificial neural networks shows that the total number of days with thefive most frequent atmospheric patterns that characterized the summer of2019 was 5 standard deviations above the 1981–2010 mean, confirming theexceptional nature of the 2019 season over Greenland.more » « less
This study investigates cloud formation and transitions in cloud types at Summit, Greenland, during 16–22 September 2010, when a warm, moist air mass was advected to Greenland from lower latitudes. During this period there was a sharp transition between high ice clouds and the formation of a lower stratocumulus deck at Summit. A regional mesoscale model is used to investigate the air masses that form these cloud systems. It is found that the high ice clouds form in originally warm, moist air masses that radiatively cool while being transported to Summit. A sensitivity study removing high ice clouds demonstrates that the primary impact of these clouds at Summit is to reduce cloud liquid water embedded within the ice cloud and water vapor in the boundary layer due to vapor deposition on snow. The mixed-phase stratocumulus clouds form at the base of cold, dry air masses advected from the northwest above 4 km. The net surface radiative fluxes during the stratocumulus period are at least 20 W m−2 larger than during the ice cloud period, indicating that, in seasons other than summer, cold, dry air masses advected to Summit above the boundary layer may radiatively warm the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet more effectively than warm, moist air masses advected from lower latitudes.
Understanding the drivers of surface melting in West Antarctica is crucial for understanding future ice loss and global sea level rise. This study identifies atmospheric drivers of surface melt on West Antarctic ice shelves and ice sheet margins and relationships with tropical Pacific and high-latitude climate forcing using multidecadal reanalysis and satellite datasets. Physical drivers of ice melt are diagnosed by comparing satellite-observed melt patterns to anomalies of reanalysis near-surface air temperature, winds, and satellite-derived cloud cover, radiative fluxes, and sea ice concentration based on an Antarctic summer synoptic climatology spanning 1979–2017. Summer warming in West Antarctica is favored by Amundsen Sea (AS) blocking activity and a negative phase of the southern annular mode (SAM), which both correlate with El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Extensive melt events on the Ross–Amundsen sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) are linked to persistent, intense AS blocking anticyclones, which force intrusions of marine air over the ice sheet. Surface melting is primarily driven by enhanced downwelling longwave radiation from clouds and a warm, moist atmosphere and by turbulent mixing of sensible heat to the surface by föhn winds. Since the late 1990s, concurrent with ocean-driven WAIS mass loss, summer surface melt occurrence has increased from the Amundsen Sea Embayment to the eastern Ross Ice Shelf. We link this change to increasing anticyclonic advection of marine air into West Antarctica, amplified by increasing air–sea fluxes associated with declining sea ice concentration in the coastal Ross–Amundsen Seas.