A mesoscale vortex over Halley Station, Antarctica
A detailed analysis of the evolution and structure of a mesoscale vortex and associated cloud comma that developed at the eastern edge of the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, during the early part of January 1986 is presented. The system remained quasi-stationary for over three days close to the British research station Halley (75°36′S, 26°42′W) and gave severe weather with gale-force winds and prolonged snow.The formation and development of the system were investigated using conventional surface and upper-air meteorological observations taken at Halley, analyses from the U.K. Meteorological Office 15-level model, and satellite imagery and sounder data from the TIROS-N-NOAAseries of polar orbiting satellites. The thermal structure of the vortex was examined using atmospheric profiles derived from radiance measurements from the TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder. Details of the wind field were examined using cloud motion vectors derived from a sequence of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer images.The vortex developed inland of the Brunt Ice Shelf in a strong baroclinic zone separating warm air, which had been advected polewards down the eastern Weddell Sea, and cold air descending from the Antarctic Plateau. The system intensified when cold, continental air associated with an upper-level short-wave trough was advected into the vortex. A frontal cloud band developed when slantwise ascent of warm air took place at the leading edge of the cold-air outbreak. Most of the precipitation associated with the low occurred on this cloud band.The small sea surface-atmosphere temperature differences gave only limited heat fluxes and there was no indication of deep convection associated with the system. The vortex was driven by baroclinic forcing and had some features in common with the baroclinic type of polar lows that occur in the Northern Hemisphere.
Authors: Turner, John, Lachlan-Cope, Thomas A., Warren, David E., Duncan, Charles N.