Present and future near-surface wind climate of Greenland from high resolution regional climate modelling

W. Gorter*, J. H. van Angelen, J. T M Lenaerts, M. R. van den Broeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present and twenty-first century near-surface wind climate of Greenland is presented using output from the regional atmospheric climate model RACMO2. The modelled wind variability and wind distribution compare favourably to observations from three automatic weather stations in the ablation zone of southwest Greenland. The Weibull shape parameter is used to classify the wind climate. High values (κ > 4) are found in northern Greenland, indicative of uniform winds and a dominant katabatic forcing, while lower values (κ < 3) are found over the ocean and southern Greenland, where the synoptic forcing dominates. Very high values of the shape parameter are found over concave topography where confluence strengthens the katabatic circulation, while very low values are found in a narrow band along the coast due to barrier winds. To simulate the future (2081-2098) wind climate RACMO2 was forced with the HadGEM2-ES general circulation model using a scenario of mid-range radiative forcing of +4.5 W m-2 by 2100. For the future simulated climate, the near-surface potential temperature deficit reduces in all seasons in regions where the surface temperature is below the freezing point, indicating a reduction in strength of the near-surface temperature inversion layer. This leads to a wind speed reduction over the central ice sheet where katabatic forcing dominates, and a wind speed increase over steep coastal topography due to counteracting effects of thermal and katabatic forcing. Thermally forced winds over the seasonally sea ice covered region of the Greenland Sea are reduced by up to 2.5 m s-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1595-1611
Number of pages17
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Greenland
  • Katabatic
  • Weibull
  • Wind


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