In 2007 the Programme for Monitoring the Greenland Ice Sheet (PROMICE) was initiated to observe and gain insight into the mass budget of Greenland ice masses. By means of in situ observations and remote sensing, PROMICE assesses how much mass is gained as snow accumulation on the surface versus how much is lost by iceberg calving and surface ablation (Ahlstrøm et al. 2008). A key element of PROMICE is a network of automatic weather stations (AWSs) designed to quantify components of the surface mass balance, including the energy exchanges contributing to surface ablation (Van As et al. 2013).
The use of these AWS observations is not limited to studies of ice-sheet mass balance. PROMICE contributes to CryoNet (www.globalcryospherewatch.org/cryonet), the core network of surface measurement sites of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Cryosphere Watch. By real-time delivery through WMO, PROMICE observations contribute to improve both operational forecasting and climate analysis in the data-sparse Arctic. The Greenlandic population, highly dependent on accurate forecasting of weather conditions, benefits directly from these real-time observations. For instance, extreme surface wind speeds are a high-risk element in Greenland. The third-highest wind speed observed at the surface of the Earth (93 m/s or 333 km/h), was recorded in a 8–9 March 1972 storm at Thule in North-West Greenland (Stansfield 1972).
In this paper, we discuss the extent to which the Greenland ice sheet generates its own near-surface wind field. We use PROMICE data to gain insight into the interaction between air temperature, radiation and gravity-driven katabatic winds. We focus on a particularly powerful spring storm in 2013 that contributed to a fatality on an ice-sheet ski traverse attempt (Linden 2013).
2014. Vol. 31, 83-86 p.