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Characteristics of Model Tropical Cyclone Climatology and the Large-Scale Environment

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  • 1 Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York
  • | 2 Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • | 3 Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Talahassee, Florida
  • | 4 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 5 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York
  • | 6 NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
  • | 7 School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York
  • | 8 Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy
  • | 9 Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  • | 10 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California
  • | 11 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

Here we explore the relationship between the global climatological characteristics of tropical cyclones (TCs) in climate models and the modeled large-scale environment across a large number of models. We consider the climatology of TCs in 30 climate models with a wide range of horizontal resolutions. We examine if there is a systematic relationship between the climatological diagnostics for the TC activity [number of tropical cyclones (NTC) and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE)] by hemisphere in the models and the environmental fields usually associated with TC activity, when examined across a large number of models. For low-resolution models, there is no association between a conducive environment and TC activity, when integrated over space (tropical hemisphere) and time (all years of the simulation). As the model resolution increases, for a couple of variables, in particular vertical wind shear, there is a statistically significant relationship in between the models’ TC characteristics and the environmental characteristics, but in most cases the relationship is either nonexistent or the opposite of what is expected based on observations. It is important to stress that these results do not imply that there is no relationship between individual models’ environmental fields and their TC activity by basin with respect to intraseasonal or interannual variability or due to climate change. However, it is clear that when examined across many models, the models’ mean state does not have a consistent relationship with the models’ mean TC activity. Therefore, other processes associated with the model physics, dynamical core, and resolution determine the climatological TC activity in climate models.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0500.s1.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the Process-Oriented Model Diagnostics Special Collection.

Corresponding author: Suzana J. Camargo, suzana@ldeo.columbia.edu

Abstract

Here we explore the relationship between the global climatological characteristics of tropical cyclones (TCs) in climate models and the modeled large-scale environment across a large number of models. We consider the climatology of TCs in 30 climate models with a wide range of horizontal resolutions. We examine if there is a systematic relationship between the climatological diagnostics for the TC activity [number of tropical cyclones (NTC) and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE)] by hemisphere in the models and the environmental fields usually associated with TC activity, when examined across a large number of models. For low-resolution models, there is no association between a conducive environment and TC activity, when integrated over space (tropical hemisphere) and time (all years of the simulation). As the model resolution increases, for a couple of variables, in particular vertical wind shear, there is a statistically significant relationship in between the models’ TC characteristics and the environmental characteristics, but in most cases the relationship is either nonexistent or the opposite of what is expected based on observations. It is important to stress that these results do not imply that there is no relationship between individual models’ environmental fields and their TC activity by basin with respect to intraseasonal or interannual variability or due to climate change. However, it is clear that when examined across many models, the models’ mean state does not have a consistent relationship with the models’ mean TC activity. Therefore, other processes associated with the model physics, dynamical core, and resolution determine the climatological TC activity in climate models.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0500.s1.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the Process-Oriented Model Diagnostics Special Collection.

Corresponding author: Suzana J. Camargo, suzana@ldeo.columbia.edu

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