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Seasonal cycles of Antarctic surface energy balance from automatic weather stations

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We present the seasonal cycle of the Antarctic surface energy balance (SEB) using 4 years (1998–2001) of automatic weather station (AWS) data. The four AWSs are situated on an ice shelf, in the coastal and inland katabatic wind zone and the interior plateau of Dronning Maud Land. To calculate surface temperature we use a SEB closure assumption for a surface skin layer. Modelled and observed surface have a root-mean-square difference of 1.8 K at the plateau AWS (corresponding to an uncertainty in the SEB of 5 W m−2) and <1 K (3 W m−2) at the other sites. The effect of wind-speed sensor freezing on the calculated SEB is discussed. At all sites the annual mean net radiation is negative and the near-surface air is on average stably stratified. Differences in the seasonal cycle of the SEB are mainly caused by the different wind climates at the AWS sites. In the katabatic wind zone, a combination of clear skies and strong winds forces a large wintertime turbulent transport of sensible heat towards the surface, which in turn enhances the longwave radiative heat loss. On the coastal ice shelf and on the plateau, strong winds are associated with overcast conditions, limiting the radiative heat loss and sensible heat exchange. During the short Antarctic summer, the net radiation becomes slightly positive at all sites. Away from the cold interior, the main compensating heat loss at the surface is sublimation. In the interior, summer temperatures are too low to allow significant sublimation to occur; here, surface heat loss is mainly due to convection.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756405781813168

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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