Journal of Geophysical Research vol:118 issue:4 pages:1700-1715
Since February 2009, an automatic weather station (AWS) has been operating near Utsteinen nunatak, north of the Sør Rondane mountains, in Dronning Maud Land at the ascent to the East Antarctic plateau. This paper gives an assessment of meteorological conditions, radiative fluxes, and snow accumulation for the first two years of operation, 2009-2010, analyzed in terms of meteorological regimes. Three major meteorological regimes - cold katabatic, warm synoptic and transitional synoptic - are identified using cluster analysis based on five parameters derived from the AWS measurements (wind speed, specific humidity, near-surface temperature inversion, surface pressure, and incoming longwave flux indicative of cloud forcing). For its location, the relatively mild climate at Utsteinen can be explained by the high frequency of synoptic events (observed 41-48% of the time), and a lack of drainage of cold air from the plateau due to mountain sheltering. During the cold katabatic regime a strong surface cooling leads to a strong near-surface temperature inversion build-up. A large difference in accumulation is recorded by the AWS for the two years: 235 mm water equivalent (w.e.) in 2009 and 27 mm w.e. in 2010. Several large accumulation events during the warm synoptic regime occurring mainly in winter were responsible for the majority of 2009 accumulation. Mostly small accumulation events occurred during 2010, frequently followed by snow removal. This interannual variability in snow accumulation at the site is related to the intensity of the local synoptic events as recorded by meteorological regime characteristics.