Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 75–116

The KABEG’97 field experiment: An aircraft-based study of katabatic wind dynamics over the Greenland ice sheet

  • Günther Heinemann

DOI: 10.1023/A:1002009530877

Cite this article as:
Heinemann, G. Boundary-Layer Meteorology (1999) 93: 75. doi:10.1023/A:1002009530877


The aircraft-based experiment KABEG‘97 (Katabatic wind and boundary-layer front experiment around Greenland) was performed in April/May 1997. During the experiment, surface stations were installed at five positions on the ice sheet and in the tundra near Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland. A total of nine katabatic wind flights were performed during quite different synoptic situations and surface conditions, and low-level jets with wind speeds up to 25m s-1 were measured under strong synoptic forcing of the katabatic wind system. The KABEG data represent a unique data set for the investigation of katabatic winds. For the first time, high-resolution and accurate aircraft measurements can be used to investigate the three-dimensional structure of the katabatic wind system for a variety of synoptic situations.

Surface station data show that a pronounced daily cycle of the near-surface wind is present for almost all days due to the nighttime development of the katabatic wind. In a detailed case study the stably-stratified boundary layer over the ice and the complex boundary-layer structure in the transition zone ice/tundra are investigated. The katabatic wind system is found to extend about 10 km over the tundra area and is associated with strong wind convergence and gravity waves. The investigation of the boundary-layer dynamics using the concept of a two-layer katabatic wind model yields the results that the katabatic flow is always a ‘shooting’ flow and that the ‘pure katabatic’ force is the main driving mechanism for the flow regime, although a considerable influence of the large-scale synoptic forcing is found as well.

Aircraft study Arctic boundary layer Downslope winds Katabatic wind 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Günther Heinemann

There are no affiliations available

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