Gravity Wave Excitation during the Coastal Transition of an Extreme Katabatic Flow in Antarctica

Vignon, Etienne; Picard, Ghislain; Duran-Alarcon, Claudio; Alexander, Simon P.; Gallee, Hubert; Berne, Alexis


The offshore extent of Antarctic katabatic winds exerts a strong control on the production of sea ice and the formation of polynyas. In this study, we make use of a combination of ground-based remotely sensed and meteorological measurements at Dumont d'Urville (DDU) station, satellite images, and simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting Model to analyze a major katabatic wind event in Adelie Land. Once well developed over the slope of the ice sheet, the katabatic flow experiences an abrupt transition near the coastal edge consisting of a sharp increase in the boundary layer depth, a sudden decrease in wind speed, and a decrease in Froude number from 3.5 to 0.3. This so-called katabatic jump manifests as a turbulent "wall" of blowing snow in which updrafts exceed 5 m s(-1). The wall reaches heights of 1000 m and its horizontal extent along the coast is more than 400 km. By destabilizing the boundary layer downstream, the jump favors the trapping of a gravity wave train-with a horizontal wavelength of 10.5 km-that develops in a few hours. The trapped gravity waves exert a drag that considerably slows down the low-level outflow. Moreover, atmospheric rotors form below the first wave crests. The wind speed record measured at DDU in 2017 (58.5 m s(-1)) is due to the vertical advection of momentum by a rotor. A statistical analysis of observations at DDU reveals that katabatic jumps and low-level trapped gravity waves occur frequently over coastal Adelie Land. It emphasizes the important role of such phenomena in the coastal Antarctic dynamics.

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Título según WOS: ID WOS:000528754800004 Not found in local WOS DB
Volumen: 77
Número: 4
Fecha de publicación: 2020
Página de inicio: 1295
Página final: 1312


Notas: ISI