Comparison of kilometre and sub‐kilometre scale simulations of a foehn wind event over the Larsen C Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula using the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM)

A foehn event on 27 January 2011 over the Larsen C Ice Shelf (LCIS), Antarctic Peninsula and its interaction with an exisiting ground-based cold-air pool is simulated using the MetUM atmospheric model at kilometre and sub-kilometre scale grid spacing. Atmospheric model simulations at kilometre grid scales are an important tool for understanding the detailed circulation and temperature structure over the LCIS, especially the occurrence of foehn-induced surface melting, erosion of cold-air pools, and low-level wind jets (so-called foehn jets). But whether there is an improvement/convergence in the model representation of these features at sub-kilometre grid scales has yet to be established. The foehn event was simulated at grid spacings of 4, 1.5 and 0.5 km, with the results compared to automatic weather station and radiosonde measurements. The features commonly associated with foehn, such as a leeside hydraulic jump and enhanced leeside warming, were comparatively insensitive to resolution in the 4 to 0.5 km range, although the 0.5 km simulation shows a slightly sharper and larger hydraulic jump. By contrast, during the event the simulation of fine-scale foehn jets above the cold-air pool showed considerable dependence on grid spacing, although no evidence of convergence at higher resolution. During the foehn event, the MetUM model is characterised by a nocturnal cold bias of around 8 °C and an underestimate of the near-surface stability of the cold-air pool, neither of which improved with increased resolution. This finding identifies a key model limitation, at both kilometre and sub-kilometre scales, to realistically capture the vertical mixing in the boundary layer and its impact on thermodynamics, through either daytime heating from below or the downward penetration of foehn jet winds from above. Detailed model-resolved foehn jet dynamics thus plays a crucial role in controlling the near-surface temperature structure over the LCIS, as well as sub-grid turbulent mixing.


Publication status:
Authors: Orr, Andrew ORCIDORCID record for Andrew Orr, Kirchgaessner, Amélie ORCIDORCID record for Amélie Kirchgaessner, King, John, Phillips, Tony ORCIDORCID record for Tony Phillips, Gilbert, Ella, Elvidge, Andrew, Weeks, Mark, Gadian, Alan, Kuipers Munneke, Peter, van den Broeke, Michiel, Webster, Stuart, McGrath, Daniel

On this site: Amelie Kirchgaessner, Andrew Orr, John King, Tony Phillips
6 September, 2021
Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society / 147
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