EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Impacts of strong surface winds on Antarctic Polynya

Adrian McDonald
Adrian McDonald
  • University of Canterbury, School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, New Zealand (

This study investigates the impacts of strong wind events on the sea ice concentration within polynya regions, with a focus on the Ross Sea Polynya (RSP). In particular, this work quantifies the sensitivity of sea ice concentrations to surface winds and whether there are threshold wind speeds required for regions of the polynya  to open up with subsequent impacts on air-sea heat fluxes. To analyse these processes, we examine version 3.1 of the Bootstrap sea ice concentration (SIC) satellite data set derived from SSM/I brightness temperatures and how they are connected to the surface winds from the ERA5 reanalysis over the period 1979 to 2018. While we examine these relationships around the entire Antarctic continent, we focus on the RSP and low-level jets in the Ross Sea. In particular, we examine how strong wind events which impact SIC in the RSP are linked to Ross Ice Shelf Air Stream events (strong low-level jets in the region). The hypothesis that the increase in Ross Ice Shelf Air Stream events, associated with a strengthening of the Amundsen Sea Low, has contributed to trends in sea ice production in this region is examined.

How to cite: McDonald, A.: Impacts of strong surface winds on Antarctic Polynya, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11468,, 2020

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Display material version 1 – uploaded on 04 May 2020
  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-11468, Lukas Papritz, 04 May 2020

    Very interesting approach to study sea ice variability. I was wondering whether the SOM clusters could be used to help better disentangle the impacts different atmospheric processes (on one hand thermodynamic such as radiative or sensible fluxes, and on the other hand wind forcing via weather systems) could have on the variability of sea ice?