Analyzing True Arctic Airmasses

By: CloverdaleE , 2:19 AM GMT on April 22, 2013

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This probably is a funny time of the year to be discussing this but I thought it would be nice to share some of my analysis experience working in the Arctic for over 10 years.

I would always analyze tephigrams (Canadian way to look at the radiosonde soundings) on a daily basis to decipher what airmasses were lying over our area of responsibility. The theta-w (potential wet bulb temperature) was always considered to be conservative in an airmass. Cold maritime Arctic airmasses (cold mA) had theta-w's of -2C to +4C but true continental Arctic airmasses (cA) had theta-w's below -2C.

Looking at 850 mb, the -10C isotherm was often a quick way to delineate the cA airmass at 850 mb from the milder (cold mA) airmass.

Oddly enough, looking for the 850 mb position of the cA airmass was usually a more useful forecasting tool in the Yukon than any perceived location of a surface front.

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About CloverdaleE

I was a professional meteorologist with Environment Canada from 1976 through 2009: of which 11 years were at the Yukon Weather Centre in Whitehorse