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Recent accumulation variability and change on the Antarctic Peninsula from the ERA40 reanalysis

By Georgina M. Miles, Gareth J. Marshall, Joseph R. McConnell and Alberto J. Aristarain

Abstract

The Antarctic Peninsula has displayed significant climate change over recent decades. Understanding contemporaneous changes in accumulation is made difficult because the region's complex orography means that ice-core data are not necessarily representative of a wider area. In this paper, the patterns of regional spatial accumulation variability across the Antarctic Peninsula region are presented, based on an Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis of European Centre for Medium Range Forecasts Reanalysis (ERA40) data over the 23-year period from 1979 through 2001. Annual and seasonal trends in the sign and strength of these patterns are identified, as is their relationship with mean sea level pressure, temperature and indices of large-scale circulation variability.\ud \ud The results reveal that the first pattern of accumulation variability on the Peninsula is primarily related to pressure in the circumpolar trough and the second pattern to temperature: together the two EOFs explain similar to 45-65% of the annual/seasonal accumulation. The strongest positive trend in an EOF occurs with EOF2 in the austral autumn March-April-May (MAM). This is highly correlated with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) in this season, suggesting stronger westerly winds have caused an increase in orographic precipitation along the west Antarctic Peninsula. A significant correlation with ENSO occurs only in the winter EOF1, associated with blocking in the Bellingshausen Sea.\ud \ud Inter-annual ERA40 accumulation is shown to compare favourably with an ice core in the south of the Peninsula, but, for a variety of reasons, correlates poorly with accumulation as measured in an ice core from the northern tip. Opposite trends in accumulation at these two sites can be explained by the spatial pattern and trend of EOF2 in MAM and thus by recent changes in the SAM. The results of this study will aid in the understanding of temporal accumulation changes observed in the regional ice-core record. Copyright (C) 2007 Royal Meteorological Society

Topics: Meteorology and Climatology, Glaciology
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1002/joc.1642
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:11567
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