Atmospheric Blocking Trends and Seasonality around the Antarctic Peninsula

Resumen: We assess temperature and moisture transport in and around the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) associated with atmospheric blocking over two domains, one located to the west (150–90°W, 50–70°S, Western AP (WAP)) and the other over and to the east (90–30°W, 50–70°S, Eastern AP (EAP)) of the AP. We make use of surface meteorological observations, ERA5 reanalysis data, and a state-of-the-art atmospheric river (AR) database. Observed temperature anomalies indicate that the WAP and EAP blocking patterns are characterized by significant cold and warm anomalies over the AP, respectively, particularly in austral autumn, winter and spring. Consistent with these changes, cold anomalies depicted by ERA5 are associated with the transport of cold and dry air from the Antarctic continent by southerly and southeasterly flow over the eastern flank of the WAP blocking. ERA5 results highlight the importance of blocking days over the EAP domain (largely centered over the Drake Passage) to the occurrence of warm events associated with northerly and northwesterly warm air transport. Significant increases in integrated vapor transport (IVT) and AR frequency are also evident during the EAP blocking, particularly on the windward side of the AP. During the most extreme blocking days in this domain, there exist significant increases in latent and sensible heat fluxes on the windward side of the AP and the Larsen C Ice Shelf, respectively, indicating the contribution of foehn events to warm anomalies, especially in austral autumn and winter. The co-occurrences between landfalling ARs and blocking are found to amplify foehn effect due to higher IVT and associated latent heat condensation compared to blocking days without ARs. We conclude that blocking patterns are important to understand the occurrence of extremely warm events and landfalling ARs in the AP and their potential impacts on the surface cryospheric processes.

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