Inhomogeneity of the surface air temperature record from Halley, Antarctica

Commencing in 1956, observations made at Halley Research Station, Antarctica provide one of the longest continuous series of near-surface temperature observations from the Antarctic continent. Since few other records of comparable length are available, the Halley record has been used extensively in studies of long-term Antarctic climate variability and change. The record does not, however, come from a single location but is a composite of observations from a sequence of seven stations, all situated on the Brunt Ice Shelf, that range from around 10 km to 50 km distance from the coast. Until now, it has generally been assumed that temperature data from all of these stations could be combined into a single composite record with no adjustment. Here, we examine this assumption of homogeneity. Application of a statistical change point algorithm to the composite record detects a sudden cooling associated with the move from Halley IV to Halley V station in 1992. We show that this temperature step is consistent with local temperature gradients measured by a network of automatic weather stations and with those simulated by a high-resolution atmospheric model. These temperature gradients are strongest in the coastal region and result from the onshore advection of maritime air. The detected inhomogeneity could account for the weak cooling trend seen in the uncorrected composite record. In future, studies that make use of the Halley record will need to account for its inhomogeneity.


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Authors: King, John C. ORCIDORCID record for John C. King, Turner, John ORCIDORCID record for John Turner, Colwell, Steve, Lu, Hua ORCIDORCID record for Hua Lu, Orr, Andrew ORCIDORCID record for Andrew Orr, Phillips, Tony ORCIDORCID record for Tony Phillips, Hosking, J. Scott ORCIDORCID record for J. Scott Hosking, Marshall, Gareth J. ORCIDORCID record for Gareth J. Marshall

On this site: Andrew Orr, Gareth Marshall, Hua Lu, Scott Hosking, John King, John Turner, Steve Colwell, Tony Phillips
1 June, 2021
Journal of Climate / 34
13pp / 4771-4783
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