A climatology of strong wind events at McMurdo station, Antarctica

Authors

  • Sheeba Nettukandy Chenoli,

    Corresponding author
    • National Antarctic Research Centre, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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  • John Turner,

    1. National Antarctic Research Centre, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    2. British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
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  • Azizan Abu Samah

    1. National Antarctic Research Centre, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Correspondence to: S. N. Chenoli, National Antarctic Research Centre, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. E-mail: sheeba@um.edu.my

ABSTRACT

The first climatology of strong wind events (SWEs) at McMurdo station, Antarctica based on the in situ observations and reanalysis fields is presented. SWEs occur throughout the year, but with a minimum during the summer. They are associated with negative mean sea level pressure (MSLP) and upper height anomalies across the Ross Sea/Ice Shelf, as well as positive temperature anomalies at the station. Wind directions during SWEs exhibit a bimodal distribution of 135–180° and 45–90°. This distribution occurs because of the interaction of the predominantly southerly flow with the orography of Black and White Island and Minna Bluff. The east-northeast flow is associated with winds that are deflected around the orography, while the more southerly events have sufficient energy to override the barriers. The bimodal wind distribution is most common during the winter season since the southerly flow is stronger as a result of deeper cyclonic systems. SWEs also occur when there are large, positive MSLP anomalies at McMurdo station as ridges of high pressure build from the interior and enhance the pressure gradient between the continental high and offshore lows. The interannual variability in the number of winter SWEs is large. Years with many SWEs are associated with a deep climatological low centred over the north eastern Ross Ice Shelf. Years with few winter SWEs have a weakened mid-tropospheric vortex over the Ross Ice Shelf. There are periods when the index of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) correlates with the number of SWEs. However, the links are not statistically significant in the longer term. A similar link was also observed between the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and the interannual variability in the number of SWEs. The relationship was found to be stronger when the phase of ENSO and the SAM were the same.

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