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The Influence of the Amundsen-Bellingshausen Seas Low on the Climate of West Antarctica and Its Representation in Coupled Climate Model Simulations

The Amundsen-Bellingshausen Seas Low (ABSL) is a non-stationary climatological low pressure system that exists over the South Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. The ABSL exerts a strong influence on the climate of West Antarctica by controlling regional wind patterns, which in turn drives changes in surface air temperature, sea-ice extent and precipitation. Significant warming has occurred in the region of West Antarctica over recent decades. A clearer understanding of the connection between the position and strength of the ABSL and the regional climate of West Antarctica is required to fully understand this.

In this paper we present a new method for defining the ABSL in terms of its central pressure relative to the area-averaged background pressure. In doing so, we remove much of the influence from modes of large-scale variability, such as the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). We also demonstrate that ABSL variability, and in particular the longitudinal position, plays an important role in controlling the surface climate of West Antarctica. Furthermore, we identify which of the current generation of climate models simulate the ABSL more realistically, and show that the surface climate representations in these models are closer to observations as a result.

Link to the full paper in the NERC Open Research Archive


Hosking, J. Scott; Orr, Andrew; Marshall, Gareth J.; Turner, John; Phillips, Tony


Journal of Climate, 26 (17). 6633-6648. 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00813.1