An examination of the precipitation delivery mechanisms for Dolleman Island, eastern Antarctic Peninsula

The variability of size and source of significant precipitation events were studied at an Antarctic ice core drilling site: Dolleman Island (DI). located on the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Significant precipitation events that occur at DI were temporally located in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) reanalysis data set, ERA-40. The annual and summer precipitation totals from ERA-40 at DI both show significant increases over the reanalysis period. Three-dimensional backwards air parcel trajectories were then run for 5 d using the ECMWF ERA-15 wind fields. Cluster analyses were performed on two sets of these backwards trajectories: all days in the range 1979-1992 (the climatological time-scale) and a subset of days when a significant precipitation event occurred. The principal air mass sources and delivery mechanisms were found to be the Weddell Sea via lee cyclogenesis, the South Atlantic when there was a weak circumpolar trough (CPT) and the South Pacific when the CPT was deep. The occurrence of precipitation bearing air masses arriving via a strong CPT was found to have a significant correlation with the southern annular mode (SAM); however, the arrival of air masses from the same region over the climatological time-scale showed no such correlation. Despite the dominance in both groups of back trajectories of the westerly circulation around Antarctica, some other key patterns were identified. Most notably there was a higher frequency Of lee cyclogenesis events in the significant precipitation trajectories compared to the climatological time-scale. There was also a tendency for precipitation trajectories to come from more northerly latitudes, mostly from 50-70degreesS. The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was found to have a strong influence on the mechanism by which the precipitation was delivered: the frequency of occurrence of precipitation from the east (west) of DI increased during El Nino (La Nina) events.


Publication status:
Authors: Russell, Andrew, McGregor, Glenn R., Marshall, Gareth J.

On this site: Gareth Marshall
1 January, 2004
Tellus / 56A, No.5
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):