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Winter marine atmospheric conditions over the Japan Sea

  • Author(s): Dorman, Clive E
  • Beardsley, R C
  • Dashko, N A
  • Friehe, C A
  • Kheilf, D
  • Cho, K
  • Limeburner, R
  • Varlamov, S M
  • et al.

Four basic types of synoptic-scale conditions describe the atmospheric structure and variability observed over the Japan Sea during the 1999/2000 winter season: (1) flow of cold Asian air from the northwest, (2) an outbreak of very cold Siberian air from the north and northeast, (3) passage of a weak cyclone over the southern Japan Sea with a cold air outbreak on the backside of the low, and (4) passage of a moderate cyclone along the northwestern side of the Japan Sea. In winter, the Russian coastal mountains and a surface-air temperature inversion typically block cold surface continental air from the Japan Sea. Instead, the adiabatic warming of coastal mountain lee-side air results in small air-sea temperature differences. Occasional outbreaks of very cold Siberian air eliminate the continental surface-based inversion and stability, allowing very cold air to push out over the Japan Sea for 1-3 days. During these outbreaks, the 0degreesC surface air isotherm extends well southward of 40degreesN, the surface heat losses in the center of the Japan Sea can exceed 600 W m(-2), and sheet clouds cover most of the Japan Sea, with individual roll clouds extending from near the Russian coast to Honshu. During December through February, 1991-2002, these strong cold-air outbreak conditions occur 39% of the time and contribute 43% of the net heat loss from the Japan Sea. The average number of strong cold-air events per winter (November-March) season is 13 (ranging from 5 to 19); the 1999/2000 winter season covered in our measurements was normal.

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