Climatology and Changes in Extratropical Cyclone Activity in the Southern Hemisphere during Austral Winters from 1948 to 2017

Xinyue Zhan aDepartment of Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China
bDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

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Lei Chen aDepartment of Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China
cCentre for Severe Weather and Climate and Hydro-Geological Hazards, Wuhan, China

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Abstract

An objective detection and tracking algorithm based on relative vorticity at 850 hPa using National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) Reanalysis-1 data was applied to track cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere during austral winters from 1948 to 2017. The climatological characteristics of extratropical cyclones, including track density, frequency, intensity, lifetime, and their related variabilities, are discussed. The frequency and average lifetime of cyclones have substantially decreased. The average maximum intensity of cyclones has shown an increasing trend over the 70-yr study period. The cyclone track density shows a decreasing trend in lower latitudes, consistent with the region where the upper-troposphere zonal wind weakens. Baroclinicity can explain the increase in cyclone intensity: when a cyclone moves to higher latitudes and enters the region with greater baroclinicity, it strengthens. As there is no discernible increase in cyclogenesis in the medium latitudes (45°–70°S), but significantly less cyclogenesis in lower and higher latitudes, it is hypothesized that there is no clear poleward cyclogenesis shift over the Southern Hemisphere.

Significance Statement

While much is known about the Northern Hemisphere cyclones, few studies have examined how extratropical cyclones have changed in the Southern Hemisphere. We used an automatic tracking algorithm to study the climatological characteristics of extratropical cyclones over the past 70 years and found that the frequency of winter extratropical cyclones has decreased significantly in most parts of the Southern Hemisphere, with the number of intense cyclones increasing. Under global warming conditions, variability in regional low-level baroclinicity and a weakened upper-troposphere jet are likely to be responsible for this change. Future studies may focus on how the increasing autumn sea ice around Antarctica affects polar cyclone activities.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Lei Chen, leichen@cug.edu.cn

Abstract

An objective detection and tracking algorithm based on relative vorticity at 850 hPa using National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) Reanalysis-1 data was applied to track cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere during austral winters from 1948 to 2017. The climatological characteristics of extratropical cyclones, including track density, frequency, intensity, lifetime, and their related variabilities, are discussed. The frequency and average lifetime of cyclones have substantially decreased. The average maximum intensity of cyclones has shown an increasing trend over the 70-yr study period. The cyclone track density shows a decreasing trend in lower latitudes, consistent with the region where the upper-troposphere zonal wind weakens. Baroclinicity can explain the increase in cyclone intensity: when a cyclone moves to higher latitudes and enters the region with greater baroclinicity, it strengthens. As there is no discernible increase in cyclogenesis in the medium latitudes (45°–70°S), but significantly less cyclogenesis in lower and higher latitudes, it is hypothesized that there is no clear poleward cyclogenesis shift over the Southern Hemisphere.

Significance Statement

While much is known about the Northern Hemisphere cyclones, few studies have examined how extratropical cyclones have changed in the Southern Hemisphere. We used an automatic tracking algorithm to study the climatological characteristics of extratropical cyclones over the past 70 years and found that the frequency of winter extratropical cyclones has decreased significantly in most parts of the Southern Hemisphere, with the number of intense cyclones increasing. Under global warming conditions, variability in regional low-level baroclinicity and a weakened upper-troposphere jet are likely to be responsible for this change. Future studies may focus on how the increasing autumn sea ice around Antarctica affects polar cyclone activities.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Lei Chen, leichen@cug.edu.cn
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