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Resolution Sensitivity of Cyclone Climatology over Eastern Australia Using Six Reanalysis Products

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  • 1 Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • | 2 Climate Change Research Centre, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
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Abstract

The climate of the eastern seaboard of Australia is strongly influenced by the passage of low pressure systems over the adjacent Tasman Sea due to their associated precipitation and their potential to develop into extreme weather events. The aim of this study is to quantify differences in the climatology of east coast lows derived from the use of six global reanalyses. The methodology is explicitly designed to identify differences between reanalyses arising from differences in their horizontal resolution and their structure (type of forecast model, assimilation scheme, and the kind and number of observations assimilated). As a basis for comparison, reanalysis climatologies are compared with an observation-based climatology. Results show that reanalyses, specially high-resolution products, lead to very similar climatologies of the frequency, intensity, duration, and size of east coast lows when using spatially smoothed (about 300-km horizontal grid meshes) mean sea level pressure fields as input data. Moreover, at these coarse horizontal scales, monthly, interannual, and spatial variabilities appear to be very similar across the various reanalyses with a generally stronger agreement between winter events compared with summer ones. Results also show that, when looking at cyclones using reanalysis data at their native resolution (approaching 50-km grid spacing for the most recent products), uncertainties related to the frequency, intensity, and size of lows are very large and it is not clear which reanalysis, if any, gives a better description of cyclones. Further work is needed in order to evaluate the usefulness of the finescale information in modern reanalyses and to better understand the sources of their differences.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00645.s1.

Corresponding author address: Alejandro Di Luca, Gate 11 Botany St, Library Walk Level 4, Mathews Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia. E-mail: a.diluca@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

The climate of the eastern seaboard of Australia is strongly influenced by the passage of low pressure systems over the adjacent Tasman Sea due to their associated precipitation and their potential to develop into extreme weather events. The aim of this study is to quantify differences in the climatology of east coast lows derived from the use of six global reanalyses. The methodology is explicitly designed to identify differences between reanalyses arising from differences in their horizontal resolution and their structure (type of forecast model, assimilation scheme, and the kind and number of observations assimilated). As a basis for comparison, reanalysis climatologies are compared with an observation-based climatology. Results show that reanalyses, specially high-resolution products, lead to very similar climatologies of the frequency, intensity, duration, and size of east coast lows when using spatially smoothed (about 300-km horizontal grid meshes) mean sea level pressure fields as input data. Moreover, at these coarse horizontal scales, monthly, interannual, and spatial variabilities appear to be very similar across the various reanalyses with a generally stronger agreement between winter events compared with summer ones. Results also show that, when looking at cyclones using reanalysis data at their native resolution (approaching 50-km grid spacing for the most recent products), uncertainties related to the frequency, intensity, and size of lows are very large and it is not clear which reanalysis, if any, gives a better description of cyclones. Further work is needed in order to evaluate the usefulness of the finescale information in modern reanalyses and to better understand the sources of their differences.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00645.s1.

Corresponding author address: Alejandro Di Luca, Gate 11 Botany St, Library Walk Level 4, Mathews Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia. E-mail: a.diluca@unsw.edu.au

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