European Polar Low Working Group

Polar mesocyclones and polar lows

A long discussion has been taking place in the past about the terms 'mesocyclones' and 'polar low'. The European Polar Low Working Group definitions use the term "meso-scale cyclone" or "mesocyclone" for all polar cyclones poleward of the main polar front having scales smaller than 2000 km. The classical 'polar low' is included as a subtype which is restricted to maritime systems with near surface winds exceeding 15 m/s.

Despite the fact that polar low research is a matter of interest to the scientific community for more than 30 years, polar low research is still of high interest for all nations working in the polar regions. While in its early years polar low research was mainly focussed to the areas of European polar seas, polar MCs are now investigated over almost all oceans affected by cold air outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and also in the Southern Hemisphere (SH). For the NH, research has been conducted e.g. for the Japan Sea, the Labrador Sea, Hudson Bay, and the Davis Street, and also for the areas of the Greenland Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Barents Sea.

For the SH, MCs have been observed for different regions of the Antarctic by means of satellite imagery used to investigate the synoptic climatology of MCs. Regional climatological studies using higher resolution satellite data and detailed observational studies have been carried out for the areas of the Ross and Bellingshausen Sea, and also for the areas of  the Bellingshausen and Weddell Sea. Recently several few observational and numerical model studies have been performed.

Chairman: Prof. Dr. Thomas Spengler, Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Norway

Past chairman (1995-2018): Prof. Dr. Günther Heinemann, Environmental Meteorology, University of Trier, Germany

Secretary: Dr. Chantal Claud, Ecole Polytechnique, Paris