Antarctic mesocyclone regimes from satellite and conventional data


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Mesoscale vortices in the Antarctic, poleward of 50°S, are examined in the synoptic context for the Ross Sea sector (100°E eastward to 80°W) for transition and winter months of 1988, using DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) thermal infrared (TIR) images. Mesoscale vortices are classified and tracked and the dominant characteristics, such as life span, speed of movement and preferred geographical locations of formation, are defined and discussed. A “superposed epoch” (compositing) method utilizing 1000 and 500 mb height data identifies the dominant synoptic regimes in which mesoscale vortices tend to develop. This analysis indicates that during active or outbreak periods, a negative thickness anomaly (“cold pool”) is located northeast of the Ross Sea, and mesoscale vortices tend to occur on the poleward side of that anomaly. In addition, an enhanced trough‐ridge pattern is evident for the Ross Sea sector compared with the composite pattern for inactive, or dearth, periods. The active periods of mesoscale vortices appear to originate from Antarctica, possibly via the persistent katabatic outflows from the ice sheet, rather than from teleconnections to lower latitudes. Analysis of Automatic Weather Station (AWS) data for the Ross Sea region supports this notion, at least for individual cases. Confirmation of these findings for the corresponding months of additional years is continuing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-196
Number of pages17
JournalTellus A
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Atmospheric Science


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