Hydrologic response to foehn winds in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica

TitleHydrologic response to foehn winds in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsBeane, SJ, Gooseff, MN
Academic DepartmentCivil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering
Date Published2020
UniversityUniversity of Colorado Boulder
CityBoulder, CO
Thesis Typemasters
KeywordsAntarctica, foehn, foehn winds, hydrologic, katabatic, McMurdo, wind

In the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDVs), foehn winds are a principal vector of landscape connectivity that facilitate movement of materials between glaciers, streams, soils, lakes and other parts of the ecosystem. While previous publications show that turbulent, warm and dry foehn winds indirectly relate to an increase in lake level rise via an increase in degree days above freezing (DDAF), the direct quantified impact of foehn winds to streamflow and lake level rise remains unclear. The MDVs are the largest ice-free region of Antarctica, which experience minimal precipitation. Valley bottoms contain permanently ice-covered closed basin lakes filled with meltwater from outlet glaciers via stream channels. In Taylor Valley, several meteorological stations and lake monitoring stations record average measurements of weather conditions and lake conditions on 15 to 20-minute intervals. In this thesis, the meteorological definition of foehn winds is refined and hydrologic response to foehn winds is evaluated. During the austral summer streamflow season (November - February), foehn winds are predicted to increase meltwater generation and closed-basin lake level rise. Past publications have shown that foehn wind events contribute to lake ice sublimation year-round, whereas melt does not typically occur in nonsummer months. Analysis of non-summer lake ice ablation utilizing recent lake stage and ablation data is also explored herein. Although a significant correlation was not found, summer foehn winds appear to promote above average daily lake level rise given sufficient air temperatures. Daily average lake level rise is greater for longer periods (i.e., 4-day average daily rise > 3-day average daily rise, etc.) indicating that there is at least a 4-day post-foehn impact on lake level rise during the summer. Lake ice ablation in non-summer months is shown to have a significant relationship with increasing foehn wind occurrence and wind-run. Because foehn winds are expected to increase with global warming, these hydrologic relationships aid in predicting the future of the McMurdo Dry Valley ecosystem in a warming world.