The Amundsen Sea low


J. Turner, British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK. E-mail:


We develop a climatology of the Amundsen Sea low (ASL) covering the period 1979–2008 using ECMWF operational and reanalysis fields. The depth of the ASL is strongly influenced by the phase of the Southern annular mode (SAM) with positive (negative) mean sea level pressure anomalies when the SAM is negative (positive). The zonal location of the ASL is linked to the phase of the mid-tropospheric planetary waves and the low moves west from close to 110°W in January to near 150°W in June as planetary waves 1 to 3 amplify and their phases shift westwards. The ASL is deeper by a small, but significant amount, during the La Niña phase of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) compared to El Niño. The difference in depth of the low between the two states of ENSO is greatest in winter. There is no statistically significant difference in the zonal location of the ASL between the different phases of ENSO. Over 1979–2008 the low has deepened in January by 1.7 hPa dec−1 as the SAM has become more positive. It has also deepened in spring and autumn as the semi-annual oscillation has increase in amplitude over the last 30 years. An increase in central pressure and eastward shift in March has occurred as a result of a cooling of tropical Pacific SSTs that altered the strength of the polar front jet. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society