eCite Digital Repository

On the crucial role of atmospheric rivers in the two major Weddell Polynya events in 1973 and 2017 in Antarctica


Francis, D and Mattingly, KS and Temimi, M and Massom, R and Heil, P, On the crucial role of atmospheric rivers in the two major Weddell Polynya events in 1973 and 2017 in Antarctica, Science Advances, 6, (46) Article eabc2695. ISSN 2375-2548 (2020) [Refereed Article]

PDF (Published version)

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License (

DOI: doi:10.1126/sciadv.abc2695


This study reports the occurrence of intense atmospheric rivers (ARs) during the two large Weddell Polynya events in November 1973 and September 2017 and investigates their role in the opening events via their enhancement of sea ice melt. Few days before the polynya openings, persistent ARs maintained a sustained positive total energy flux at the surface, resulting in sea ice thinning and a decline in sea ice concentration in the Maud Rise region. The ARs were associated with anomalously high amounts of total precipitable water and cloud liquid water content exceeding 3 SDs above the climatological mean. The above-normal integrated water vapor transport (IVT above the 99th climatological percentile), as well as opaque cloud bands, warmed the surface (+10C in skin and air temperature) via substantial increases (+250 W m−2) in downward longwave radiation and advection of warm air masses, resulting in sea ice melt and inhibited nighttime refreezing.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:polynya, Antarctica, atmospheric rivers
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Atmospheric sciences
Research Field:Atmospheric dynamics
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Air quality, atmosphere and weather
Objective Field:Atmospheric processes and dynamics
UTAS Author:Massom, R (Dr Robert Massom)
UTAS Author:Heil, P (Dr Petra Heil)
ID Code:143785
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:24
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2021-04-01
Last Modified:2021-05-26
Downloads:10 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page