Antarctic Research
At Geophysical Institute, UAF

Antarctic Research
Summary of project
Personnel
Collaborators
Publications (since 1998) and completed manuscripts
Publication for 1997 and before
Photos
Maps
Field work 1999/2000
Field work 2000/2001
Ongoing scientific work

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S 263 NSF proposal 97-25843

New: Iceberg B9B spotted grounded near the Mertz Glacier in this satellite image from the National Ice Center. Image taken on May 8, 2002

New: Satellite Image of the McMurdo area from Jan 2001 shows the track the Ice Breaker Polar Star made during the break in for Deep Freeze 01.

 

Katabatic Winds in Eastern Antarctica and their Interactions with Sea Ice

Our work in Antarctica started in 1980 with the event of Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) which could work unattended and report back their data over satellite (ARGOS system). It was an American- French undertaking, as we wanted to obtain data from a very remote area of Antarctica, namely Adélie Land and King George Land. First we established a series of stations which stretched from Dumont d'Urville close to sea level, to Dome C on the Antarctic plateau at 3280 m altitude some 1080 km distance inland. Dome C can be indeed very cold; we measured a temperature of -84.6°C (-120°F). One of the first goals was to obtain a better understanding of the development of the katabatic wind, which flows down the slopes of the Antarctic ice sheet, and can reach in the coastal areas very high wind speeds, indeed the strongest wind speeds measured anywhere on Earth close to sea level. The highest wind speed we measured was 96 m/s (>200 mph) on a tower in Dumont d'Urville. In later years, we established a second array along the coast of Adélie- and King George-Lands, a confluence zone for the katabatic wind.

Over the years we studied a number of phenomena (see Publications), e.g. studies on the climate of the area, the energy budget which special emphasis on the radiation including the UV, blowing snow, which can transport large amount of snow from the continent to the ocean, modeling the katabatic wind, the interaction of the strong winds with sea ice, and other topics. For example, the strong winds can drive the ice away from the coast even in midwinter, and open water areas (coastal polynyas) have been observed. These areas release a large amount of energy to the atmosphere, produce a large amount of new sea ice and play a major role in the formation of Antarctic bottom water.

 

 

Date Last Modified: 6/14/02