Antarctic Science

Synoptic situations causing high precipitation rates on the Antarctic plateau: observations from Kohnen Station, Dronning Maud Land

Gerit Birnbaum a1c1, Ralf Brauner a2 and Hinnerk Ries a1
a1 Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, PO Box 120161, 27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
a2 Deutscher Wetterdienst, Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse 76, 20359 Hamburg, Germany

Article author query
birnbaum g   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
brauner r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ries h   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Kohnen Station (75°S, 0°E, 2892 m) is one of the two drilling sites of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica. Snow falls at Kohnen only a few times a year with comparatively high precipitation rates of 1 mm to over 5 mm water equivalent per event. These events contribute considerably to the total annual accumulation of which the long-term mean value is 62 mm water equivalent per year. For ice core interpretation, it is important to understand synoptic processes leading to such high precipitation rates. Our investigation is based on visually observed periods of heavy snowfall at Kohnen during summer campaigns since 2001/2002. The corresponding synoptic situations can be grouped into three categories. Category I is where occluding fronts of eastward-moving low pressure systems reach the plateau, a fairly frequent occurrence. Category II is where lows or secondary lows formed east of the Greenwich Meridian move to the west (retrograde movement), and frontal clouds influence the plateau. In Category III, large-scale lifting processes (due to an upper air low west of Kohnen Station) lead to cloud formation over the plateau of Dronning Maud Land.

(Received March 13 2005)
(Accepted November 8 2005)

Key Words: accumulation; Antarctica; EPICA; low pressure systems.