1Department of Geography, University of Tartu, Vanemuise 46, 51014, Tartu, Estonia
2Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
3Tartu Observatory, 61602, Tõravere, Tartumaa, Estonia
4Department of Physics, University of Tartu, Tähe 4, 51010, Tartu, Estonia
5Estonian Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Mustamäe tee 33, 10616, Tallinn, Estonia
Abstract. Low-level jets (LLJ) are important for turbulence in the stably stratified atmospheric boundary layer, but their occurrence, properties, and generation mechanisms in the Arctic are not well known. We analysed LLJs over the central Arctic Ocean in spring and summer 2007 on the bases of data collected in the drifting ice station Tara. Instead of traditional radiosonde soundings, data from tethersonde soundings with a high vertical resolution were used. The Tara results showed a lower occurrence of LLJs (46%) than many previous studies over polar sea ice. Strong jet core winds contributed to growth of the turbulent layer. Complex relationship between the jet core height and the temperature inversion top height were detected: substantial correlation (r = 0.72; p < 0.01) occurred when the jet core was above the turbulent layer, but inside the turbulent layer there was no correlation. The most important forcing mechanism for LLJs was baroclinicity, which was responsible for generation of strong and warm LLJs, which on average occurred at lower altitudes than other jets. Baroclinic jets were mostly associated to transient cyclones instead of the climatological air temperature gradients. Besides baroclinicity, cases related to inertial oscillations, gusts, and fronts were detected. In approximately 50% of the observed LLJs the generation mechanism remained unclear, but in most of these cases the wind speed was strong in the whole vertical profile, the jet core representing only a weak maximum. Further research needs on LLJs in the Arctic include investigation of low-level jet streams and their effects on the sea ice drift and atmospheric moisture transport.