Foehn winds in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctic: The origin of extreme warming events

Speirs, J. C., Steinhoff, D. F., McGowan, H. A., Bromwich, D. H. and Monaghan, A. J. (2010) Foehn winds in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctic: The origin of extreme warming events. Journal of Climate, 23 13: 3577-3598. doi:10.1175/2010JCLI3382.1

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Author Speirs, J. C.
Steinhoff, D. F.
McGowan, H. A.
Bromwich, D. H.
Monaghan, A. J.
Title Foehn winds in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctic: The origin of extreme warming events
Journal name Journal of Climate   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0894-8755
Publication date 2010-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1175/2010JCLI3382.1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 23
Issue 13
Start page 3577
End page 3598
Total pages 20
Place of publication Boston, MA, United States
Publisher American Meteorological Society
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Foehn winds resulting from topographic modification of airflow in the lee of mountain barriers are frequently experienced in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDVs) of Antarctica. Strong foehn winds in the MDVs cause dramatic warming at onset and have significant effects on landscape forming processes; however, no detailed scientific investigation of foehn in the MDVs has been conducted. As a result, they are often misinterpreted as adiabatically warmed katabatic winds draining from the polar plateau. Herein observations from surface weather stations and numerical model output from the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) during foehn events in the MDVs are presented. Results show that foehn winds in the MDVs are caused by topographic modification of south-southwesterly airflow, which is channeled into the valleys from higher levels. Modeling of a winter foehn event identifies mountain wave activity similar to that associated with midlatitude foehn winds. These events are found to be caused by strong pressure gradients over the mountain ranges of the MDVs related to synoptic-scale cyclones positioned off the coast of Marie Byrd Land. Analysis of meteorological records for 2006 and 2007 finds an increase of 10% in the frequency of foehn events in 2007 compared to 2006, which corresponds to stronger pressure gradients in the Ross Sea region. It is postulated that the intra- and interannual frequency and intensity of foehn events in the MDVs may therefore vary in response to the position and frequency of cyclones in the Ross Sea region.
© 2010 American Meteorological Society.
Keyword Antarctic mesoscale prediction systems
Dry valley
Katabatic winds
Ross Ice Shelf
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
Official 2011 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 37 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 28 Feb 2011, 23:51:29 EST by Associate Professor Hamish Mcgowan on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management