The impact of a changing Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode on Antarctic Peninsula summer temperatures

Since the mid-1960s, rapid regional summer warming has occurred on the east coast of the northern Antarctic Peninsula, with near-surface temperatures increasing by more than 2°C. This warming has contributed significantly to the collapse of the northern sections of the Larsen Ice Shelf. Coincident with this warming, the summer Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) has exhibited a marked trend, suggested by modeling studies to be predominantly a response to anthropogenic forcing, resulting in increased westerlies across the northern peninsula. Observations and reanalysis data are utilized to demonstrate that the changing SAM has played a key role in driving this local summer warming. It is proposed that the stronger summer westerly winds reduce the blocking effect of the Antarctic Peninsula and lead to a higher frequency of air masses being advected eastward over the orographic barrier of the northern Antarctic Peninsula. When this occurs, a combination of a climatological temperature gradient across the barrier and the formation of a föhn wind on the lee side typically results in a summer near-surface temperature sensitivity to the SAM that is 3 times greater on the eastern side of the peninsula than on the west. SAM variability is also shown to play a less important role in determining summer temperatures at stations west of the barrier in the northern peninsula (62°S), both at the surface and throughout the troposphere. This is in contrast to a station farther south (65°S) where the SAM exerts little influence.


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Authors: Marshall, Gareth J. ORCIDORCID record for Gareth J. Marshall, Orr, Andrew, van Lipzig, Nicole P.M., King, John C. ORCIDORCID record for John C. King

On this site: Gareth Marshall, John King
1 January, 2006
Journal of Climate / 19
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