04 Oct 2023
 | 04 Oct 2023

Forcing For Varying Boundary Layer Stability Across Antarctica

Mckenzie J. Dice, John J. Cassano, and Gina C. Jozef

Abstract. The relative importance of changes in radiative forcing (downwelling longwave radiation) and mechanical mixing (20 m wind speed) in controlling boundary layer stability annually and seasonally at five study sites across the Antarctica continent is presented. From near-neutral to extremely strong near-surface stability, radiative forcing decreases with increasing stability, as expected, and is shown to be a major driving force behind variations in near-surface stability at all five sites. Mechanical mixing usually decreases with increasing near-surface stability for regimes with weak to extremely strong stability. For the cases where near-neutral, very shallow mixed, and weak stability occur, the wind speed in the very shallow mixed case is usually weaker compared to the near-neutral and weak stability cases while radiative forcing is largest for the near-neutral cases. This finding is an important distinguishing factor for the unique case where a very shallow mixed layer is present, indicating that weaker mechanical mixing in this case is likely responsible for the shallower boundary layer that defines the very shallow mixed stability regime. For cases with enhanced stability above a layer of weaker near-surface stability, lower downwelling longwave radiation promotes the persistence of the stronger stability aloft, while stronger near-surface winds act to maintain weaker stability immediately near the surface, resulting in this two-layer boundary layer stability regime.

Mckenzie J. Dice et al.

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Mckenzie J. Dice et al.

Mckenzie J. Dice et al.


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Short summary
This study aims to identify the main reasonings for changes in boundary layer stability, namely changes in radiative forcing or mechanical mixing (wind shear). Across the continent of Antarctica, varying stability in the boundary layer is affected by many different forces, and this study seeks to characterize the main forcing mechanisms for these variations in stability across Antarctica, annually and seasonally.