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Open Access On the forcing mechanisms of mesocyclones in the eastern Weddell Sea region, Antarctica: Process studies using a mesoscale numerical model

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Development mechanisms of Antarctic mesocyclones in the eastern Weddell Sea area are examined by means of simulations with a mesoscale model using different idealized initial conditions. In one of the experiments, a mesocyclone develops over an area of open water close to the coast of the Antarctic continent. The forcing mechanisms of this mesocyclogenesis are investigated by means of sensitivity studies in which certain physical processes and the relevance of the surface conditions topography, sea surface temperature and sea ice coverage are examined. The sensitivity experiments show that the simulated mesocyclone is forced by an interaction of several forcing mechanisms at different stages of the development rather than by a single mechanism. The topography of the eastern Weddell Sea region and the summertime coastal polynia are shown to be of great importance for the mesocyclogenesis. A suitable synoptic-scale flow is necessary to support the katabatic flow over the sloped ice sheet, and to enhance the generation of cyclonic vorticity due to vertical stretching for the initial mesocyclogenesis. The diabatic process of the convergence of the sensible and latent heat fluxes in the boundary layer over the coastal polynia then becomes the dominant forcing mechanism for the further development of the mesocyclone.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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