AbstractGreenland’s largest precipitation flux occurs in its southeast (SE) region during the winter, controlled primarily by easterly winds and frequent cyclogenesis in the North Atlantic. Several studies have attempted to link SE Greenland precipitation to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) but results are inconsistent. This work uses reanalysis, automatic weather station data, and regional climate model output to show that the east–west position of the Icelandic low is a better predictor of SE Greenland precipitation (average correlation of r = −0.48 in DJF) than climate indices such as the NAO (r = −0.06 in DJF). In years when the Icelandic low is positioned extremely west, moisture transport increases up to ~40% (or up to 40 kg m−1 s−1) off the SE Greenland coast compared to when the low is in an extreme east position. Furthermore, in years when the Icelandic low is positioned extremely west, storm track density and intensity increase just off the SE coast of Greenland. Thus, the Icelandic low’s longitudinal position dominates SE Greenland ice sheet’s wintertime precipitation, a positive term in the ice sheet mass balance. Given SE Greenland’s importance in the overall ice sheet mass balance, the position of the Icelandic low is therefore important for making projections of future sea level.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jun 18, 2018
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