A modeling study of an Antarctica polynya event

Original Paper


An event of polynya at Terra Nova Bay (TNB), occurring from 15 July to 17 July 2006, is simulated by a recent version of the mesoscale Eta model. Simulation results and observational data describe the surface conditions during the period. The spatial and temporal structure of the atmospheric boundary layer in response to the warm area of the polynya is also investigated. Numerical experiments show that the latter influences significantly the wind intensity, the temperature and the specific humidity of the air over Terra Nova Bay. The significant heating of the low atmosphere results in a three-dimensional anomaly in the baric field, which extends far in the Ross Sea, embedded in the complex pressure field obtained by the Eta model also without taking into account the polynya. A turbulent kinetic energy plume, indicating turbulent mixing, and an increased vertical diffusion of horizontal momentum are also simulated over the polynya. The downward flux of high momentum air and the modified pressure gradient force change the wind speed at low level over TNB.



A special thanks to Prof. Fedor Mesinger for the greatly appreciated suggestions and to have made available the version “sloping steps” of the model Eta and several other routines. The author thanks the two anonymous reviewers whose useful comments have enabled improvements to the manuscript. The author is grateful to: the Automatic Weather Station Program at the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Matthew Lazzara, NSF grant number ANT-0944018) (http://uwamrc.ssec.wisc.edu/) for providing AWS observations; the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for providing analyses data; the Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide (P.N.R.A.), Osservatorio Meteo-Climatologico (http://www.climantartide.it) for providing AWS observations. This study was supported by P.N.R.A., the Italian National Programme for Antarctic Research, under the Projects: “Turbulent fluxes at the surface in katabatic wind events on the Nansen Ice Sheet in Terra Nova Bay area” and “The Terra Nova Bay polynya: its integrate and innovative study using in situ observations, remote sensing, numerical and laboratory experiments”.


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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di FisicaUniversità di Modena e Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly

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