Relationships between episodes of extreme atmospheric blocking, associated moisture transport, and surface mass balance of Greenland

Authors: Lori Wachowicz*, University of Georgia, Haylie Mikulak, University of Georgia, Kyle Mattingly, University of Georgia, Thomas Mote, University of Georgia
Topics: Cryosphere, Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: Greenland, mass balance, cryosphere, atmospheric blocking, moisture transport
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marshall East, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Moisture transport to the high latitudes is one driver of regional climate, due to its ability to influence the surface energy budget. How this moisture is advected into the higher latitudes depends strongly on regional atmospheric circulation, where patterns of atmospheric blocking act to enhance moisture transport into the high latitudes, including the polar regions. Instances of enhanced moisture transport into the Arctic, for example, have been attributed to inducing strong surface melt over areas such as the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic sea ice extent, therefore motivating current research into exploring the relationship between instances of atmospheric blocking and moisture transport, as well as how this relationship affects the mass balance of both sea and land ice. Using a previously establishing blocking index based on a potential vorticity (PV) framework, blocking events are identified over the Arctic using the high resolution reanalysis dataset ERA-Interim. Instances of “extreme” blocking over the Arctic are further analyzed the associated moisture transport during these events is quantified. Case studies illustrating instances of extreme blocking and associated moisture transport over the Greenland ice sheet suggest a relationship between blocking and the surface mass balance. Preliminary findings suggest that extreme blocking episodes tend to enhance moisture transport towards Greenland. These episodes show that increased cloud cover and temperature advection cause greater downwelling longwave radiation and sensible heat fluxes, which act to enhance surface melt.

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