Trends in Antarctic Peninsula surface melting conditions from observations and regional climate modelling
Multidecadal meteorological station records and microwave backscatter time-series from the SeaWinds scatterometer onboard QuikSCAT (QSCAT) were used to calculate temporal and spatial trends in surface melting conditions on the Antarctic Peninsula (AP). Four of six long-term station records showed strongly positive and statistically significant trends in duration of melting conditions, including a 95% increase in the average annual positive degree day sum (PDD) at Faraday/Vernadsky, since 1948. A validated, threshold-based melt detection method was employed to derive detailed melt season onset, extent, and duration climatologies on the AP from enhanced resolution QSCAT data during 1999–2009. Austral summer melt on the AP was linked to regional- and synoptic-scale atmospheric variability by respectively correlating melt season onset and extent with November near-surface air temperatures and the October–January averaged index of the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM). The spatial pattern, magnitude, and interannual variability of AP melt from observations was closely reproduced by simulations of the regional model RACMO2. Local discrepancies between observations and model simulations were likely a result of the QSCAT response to, and RACMO2 treatment of, ponded surface water, and the relatively crude representation of coastal climate in the 27 km RACMO2 grid.
Authors: Barrand, N.E., Vaughan, D.G., Steiner, N., Tedesco, M., Kuipers Munneke, P., van den Broeke, M.R., Hosking, J.S.