The synoptic origins of precipitation over the Antarctic Peninsula
The synoptic origins of precipitation on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula over the one year period March 1992 to February 1993 are investigated using meteorological observations, satellite imagery and analyses produced by the UK Meteorological Office. Precipitation at Rothera Station was found to occur at 30% of the synoptic reporting time with 80% of precipitation reports being associated with cyclonic disturbances. Although three quarters of all precipitation reports were for snow, the proximity of Rothera to the zone of maximum cyclonic activity meant that incursions of mild air produced rain in all seasons. During the year 95% of all precipitation was classed as slight. Variability of precipitation on the intraseasonal timescale was highly dependent on the synoptic-scale circulation. The most common synoptic situation for precipitation was a frontal cyclone over the Bellingshausen Sea which accounted for 38% of all precipitation events and 62% of the moderate and heavy precipitation reports. Of the extra-tropical cyclones that gave precipitation 49% were found to have developed south of 60°S. None of the precipitation at Rothera was attributable to mesocyclones. Snow stake measurements from Rothera were a poor indicator of precipitation as a result of blowing snow.
Authors: Turner, John, Lachlan-Cope, Thomas A., Thomas, J.P., Colwell, Steve R.