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An evaluation of reanalysis and satellite-based products of the atmosphere over the Southern Ocean employing meteorological observations from Macquarie Island

An evaluation of reanalysis and satellite-based products of the atmosphere over the Southern Ocean employing meteorological observations from Macquarie Island
Danijel Belusic

Authors

Danijel Belusic, Steve Siems, Luke Hande, Zhan Wang and Michael Manton
School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University

Abstract

The atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) over the Southern Ocean is unique. The absence of any significant land mass allows for the strongest boundary layer winds (zonal average) across the globe, which in turn drives the largest waves. Combined, the winds and waves produce high concentrations of sea spray. Further, satellite products find that the atmosphere over the Southern Ocean has the highest fractional cloud cover and the highest precipitation frequency (zonal average) across the globe. The ability of common boundary layer clouds to generate precipitation over the SO is unknown, making it difficult to close the hydrological cycle.

The historic meteorological observations at Macquarie Island have presented a unique opportunity to evaluate various aspects of the ERA-Interim reanalysis and satellite observations. For example, the thermodynamic structure of the ABL has been found to frequently be ‘decoupled’, consistent with a few limited field observations, even though it experience exceptionally strong wind shear. An examination of the precipitation records suggests that the CloudSat precipitation product may be overestimating the amount of precipitation over the region while underestimating the frequency of precipitation.

Further research has been proposed to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) off of Macquarie Island to measure the thermodynamic fluxes through the ABL.

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This page was last modified on 3 September 2013.