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Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclones in the Met Office Global Seasonal Forecast System: Performance and ENSO Teleconnections

Xiangbo Feng
,
Nicholas P. Klingaman
,
Kevin I. Hodges
, and
Yi-Peng Guo

Abstract

The performance of the Met Office Global Seasonal Forecast System (GloSea5-GC2) for tropical cyclone (TC) frequency for the western North Pacific (WNP) in July–October is evaluated, using 23 years of ensemble forecasts (1993–2015). Compared to observations, GloSea5 overpredicts the climatological TC frequency in the eastern WNP and underpredicts it in the western and northern WNP. These biases are associated with an El Niño–type bias in TC-related environmental conditions (e.g., low-level convergence and steering flow), which encourages too many TCs to form throughout the tropical Pacific and slows TC propagation speed. For interannual TC frequency variability, GloSea5 overestimates the observed negative TC–ENSO teleconnection in the western and northern WNP, associated with an eastward shift in the ENSO teleconnection to environmental conditions. Consequently, GloSea5 fails to predict interannual TC variability in the northeast WNP (south of Japan); performance is higher in the southwest WNP (e.g., the South China Sea) where the sign of the TC–ENSO teleconnection is correct. This study suggests the need to reduce biases in environmental conditions and associated ENSO teleconnections in GloSea5 to improve the TC prediction performance in the NWP.

Open access
Qiaoling Ren
,
Kevin I. Hodges
,
Reinhard Schiemann
,
Yongjiu Dai
,
Xingwen Jiang
, and
Song Yang

Abstract

Using an objective feature-tracking algorithm and the fifth major global reanalysis produced by ECMWF data (ERA5), the seasonal behaviors of cyclonic transient eddies (cyclones) at different levels around the Tibetan Plateau (TP) were examined to understand the effects of the TP on cyclones. Results show that the TP tends to change the moving directions of the remote cyclones when they are close to the TP, with only 2% of the 250-hPa eastward-moving cyclones directly passing over the TP. The sudden reductions of their moving speeds and relative vorticity intensities around the TP suggest a suppression effect of the plateau. Over 70% of these cyclones perish over the TP regardless of the altitude. This percentage decreases to around 65% during summertime, exhibiting a weaker summer suppression effect. On the other hand, the TP has a stimulation effect on local cyclones through its dynamic forcing in winter, thermodynamic forcing in summer, and both forcings in the transitional seasons. The numbers of locally generated cyclones, especially at 500 hPa, just above the TP, are significantly larger than those of the remote cyclones during all seasons. Although about one-half of the local cyclones dissipate over the TP, the cyclones moving off the plateau significantly outnumber the moving-in cyclones, with the differences ranging from 0 to 6 cyclones per month. Only the 250-hPa wintertime moving-off cyclones are fewer than the cyclones entering the TP, which may be caused by the weaker stimulation effect and stronger suppression effect of the TP on the wintertime upper-level cyclones.

Significance Statement

Cyclonic transient eddies (cyclones), steered by westerly jet streams, can influence climate and induce extreme weather processes under certain conditions. The Tibetan Plateau (TP), the highest and largest obstacle embedded in the westerly jet streams, suppresses remote cyclones entering the TP region, destroying over 70% of these cyclones. However, because of the excitation effect of the TP on local cyclones, the numbers of cyclones moving off the TP are still larger than or equal to those of the moving-in cyclones, except at the upper levels in winter. This feature suggests that the TP cannot significantly decrease the total cyclone numbers in most cases, but it indeed weakens the mean intensity and moving speed of the cyclones.

Open access
Claudia K. Parise
,
Luciano P. Pezzi
,
Kevin I. Hodges
, and
Flavio Justino

Abstract

The study analyzes the sensitivity and memory of the Southern Hemisphere coupled climate system to increased Antarctic sea ice (ASI), taking into account the persistence of the sea ice maxima in the current climate. The mechanisms involved in restoring the climate balance under two sets of experiments, which differ in regard to their sea ice models, are discussed. The experiments are perturbed with extremes of ASI and integrated for 10 yr in a large 30-member ensemble. The results show that an ASI maximum is able to persist for ~4 yr in the current climate, followed by a negative sea ice phase. The sea ice insulating effect during the positive phase reduces heat fluxes south of 60°S, while at the same time these are intensified at the sea ice edge. The increased air stability over the sea ice field strengthens the polar cell while the baroclinicity increases at midlatitudes. The mean sea level pressure is reduced (increased) over high latitudes (midlatitudes), typical of the southern annular mode (SAM) positive phase. The Southern Ocean (SO) becomes colder and fresher as the sea ice melts mainly through sea ice lateral melting, the consequence of which is an increase in the ocean stability by buoyancy and mixing changes. The climate sensitivity is triggered by the sea ice insulating process and the resulting freshwater pulse (fast response), while the climate equilibrium is restored by the heat stored in the SO subsurface layers (long response). It is concluded that the time needed for the ASI anomaly to be dissipated and/or melted is shortened by the sea ice dynamical processes.

Full access
Matthew D. K. Priestley
,
Duncan Ackerley
,
Jennifer L. Catto
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The Southern Hemisphere storm tracks are commonly simulated too far equatorward in climate models for the historical period. In the latest generation of climate models from phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), the equatorward bias that was present in CMIP5 models still persists, although it is reduced considerably. A further reduction of the equatorward bias is found in atmosphere-only simulations. Using diagnostic large-scale fields, we propose that an increase in the midlatitude temperature gradients contributes to the reduced equatorward bias in CMIP6 and AMIP6 models, reducing the biases relative to ERA5. These changes increase baroclinicity in the atmosphere and are associated with a storm track that is situated farther poleward. In CMIP6 models, the poleward shift of the storm tracks is associated with an amelioration of cold midlatitude SST biases in CMIP5 and not through a reduction of the long-standing warm Southern Ocean SST bias. We propose that increases in midlatitude temperature gradients in the atmosphere and ocean are connected to changes in the cloud radiative effect. Persistent track density biases to the south of Australia are shown to be connected to an apparent standing-wave pattern originating in the tropics, which modifies the split jet structure near Australia and subsequently the paths of cyclones.

Free access
Matthew D. K. Priestley
,
Duncan Ackerley
,
Jennifer L. Catto
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The ability of climate models to represent extratropical storm tracks is vital to provide useful projections. In previous work, the representation of the extratropical storm tracks in the Northern Hemisphere was found to have improved from phase 5 to phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). Here we investigate the remaining and persistent biases in models from phase 6 of CMIP, by contrasting the atmosphere-only simulations (AMIP6) with the historical coupled simulations (CMIP6). The comparison of AMIP6 and CMIP6 simulations reveals that biases in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the coupled simulations across the North Pacific Ocean in winter modify the atmospheric temperature gradient, which is associated with an equatorward bias of the storm track. In the North Atlantic Ocean, cyclones do not propagate poleward enough in coupled simulations, which is partly driven by cold SSTs to the south of Greenland, decreasing the latent heat fluxes. In summer, excessive heating across central Asia and the Tibetan Plateau reduces the local baroclinicity, causing fewer cyclones to form and propagate from eastern China into the North Pacific in both the coupled and atmosphere-only simulations. Several of the biases described in the coupled models are reduced considerably in the atmosphere-only models when the SSTs are prescribed. For example, the equatorward bias of the North Pacific storm track is reduced significantly. However, other biases are apparent in both CMIP6 and AMIP6 (e.g., persistent reduction in track density and cyclogenesis over eastern Asia in summer), which are associated with other processes (e.g., land surface temperatures).

Free access
Ju Liang
,
Jennifer L. Catto
,
Matthew Hawcroft
,
Kevin I. Hodges
,
Mou Leong Tan
, and
James M. Haywood

Abstract

Borneo vortices (BVs) are intense precipitating winter storms that develop over the equatorial South China Sea and strongly affect the weather and climate over the western Maritime Continent because of their association with deep convection and heavy rainfall. In this study, the ability of the Hadley Centre Global Environment Model 3–Global Coupled, version 3.1 (HadGEM3-GC3.1), global climate model to simulate the climatology of BVs at different horizontal resolutions is examined using an objective feature-tracking algorithm. The HadGEM3-GC3.1 at the N512 (25 km) horizontal resolution simulates BVs with well-represented characteristics, including their frequency, spatial distribution, and lower-tropospheric structures when compared with BVs identified in a climate reanalysis, whereas the BVs in the N96 (~135 km) and N216 (~65 km) simulations are much weaker and less frequent. Also, the N512 simulation better captures the contribution of BVs to the winter precipitation in Borneo and the Malay Peninsula when compared with precipitation from a reanalysis data and from observations, whereas the N96 and N216 simulations underestimate this contribution because of the overly weak low-level convergence of the simulated BVs. The N512 simulation also exhibits an improved ability to reproduce the modulation of BV activity by the occurrence of northeasterly cold surges and active phases of the Madden–Julian oscillation in the region, including increased BV track densities, intensities, and lifetimes. A sufficiently high model resolution is thus found to be important to realistically simulate the present-climate precipitation extremes associated with BVs and to study their possible changes in a warmer climate.

Open access
Elliott M. Sainsbury
,
Reinhard K. H. Schiemann
,
Kevin I. Hodges
,
Alexander J. Baker
,
Len C. Shaffrey
, and
Kieran T. Bhatia

Abstract

Recurving tropical cyclones (TCs) can cause extensive damage along the U.S. East Coast and later in their life cycle over Europe as post-tropical cyclones. While the existing literature attempts to understand the drivers of basinwide and regional TC variability, less work has been undertaken looking at recurving TCs. The roles played by the interannual variabilities of TC frequency and the steering flow in governing recurving TC interannual variability are investigated in this study. Using a track-matching algorithm, we identify observed TC tracks from the NHC “best track” hurricane database, version 2 (HURDAT2) in the ERA5 and MERRA2 reanalyses. This allows for detailed analysis of the post-tropical stages of the tracks in the observational TC record, enabling robust identification and separation of TCs that recurve. We show that over 75% of the interannual variance in annual recurving TC frequency can be explained by just two predictors—the frequency of TCs forming in the subtropical Atlantic, and hurricanes (TCs with wind speeds > 33 m s−1) forming in the main development region (MDR). An index describing the seasonal mean meridional steering flow shows a weak, nonsignificant relationship with recurving TC frequency, supported by composite analysis. These results show that the interannual variability in recurving TC frequency is primarily driven by the seasonal TC activity of the MDR and the subtropical Atlantic, with seasonal anomalies in the steering flow playing a much smaller, secondary role. These results help to quantify the extent to which skillful seasonal forecasts of Atlantic hurricane activity benefit regions vulnerable to recurving TCs.

Significance Statement

Recurving tropical cyclones (TCs) can cause extensive damage to the U.S. East Coast, eastern Canada, and Europe. It is, therefore, crucial to understand why some years have a higher frequency of recurving TCs than other years. In this study, we show that the frequency of recurving TCs is very strongly linked to the frequency that hurricanes (TCs with wind speeds > 33 m s−1) form in the main development region, and the frequency that TCs form in the subtropical Atlantic. This result suggests that skillful seasonal prediction of hurricane activity could be used to give enhanced seasonal warning to the regions often impacted by recurving TCs.

Open access
Matthew D. K. Priestley
,
Duncan Ackerley
,
Jennifer L. Catto
,
Kevin I. Hodges
,
Ruth E. McDonald
, and
Robert W. Lee

Abstract

The representation of the winter and summer extratropical storm tracks in both hemispheres is evaluated in detail for the available models in phase 6 of the Coupled Model intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The state of the storm tracks from 1979 to 2014 is compared to that in ERA5 using a Lagrangian objective cyclone tracking algorithm. It is found that the main biases present in the previous generation of models (CMIP5) still persist, albeit to a lesser extent. The equatorward bias around the SH is much reduced and there appears to be some improvement in mean biases with the higher-resolution models, such as the zonal tilt of the North Atlantic storm track. Low-resolution models have a tendency to underestimate the frequency of high-intensity cyclones with all models simulating a peak intensity that is too low for cyclones in the SH. Explosively developing cyclones are underestimated across all ocean basins and in both hemispheres. In particular the models struggle to capture the rapid deepening required for these cyclones. For all measures, the CMIP6 models exhibit an overall improvement compared to the previous generation of CMIP5 models. In the NH most improvements can be attributed to increased horizontal resolution, whereas in the SH the impact of resolution is less apparent and any improvements are likely a result of improved model physics.

Open access
Wataru Yanase
,
Hiroshi Niino
,
Shun-ichi I. Watanabe
,
Kevin Hodges
,
Matthias Zahn
,
Thomas Spengler
, and
Irina A. Gurvich

Abstract

Polar lows are intense meso-α-scale cyclones that develop over the oceans poleward of the main baroclinic zone. A number of previous studies have reported polar low formation over the Sea of Japan within the East Asian winter monsoon. To understand the climatology of polar lows over the Sea of Japan, a tracking algorithm for polar lows is applied to the recent JRA-55 reanalysis. The polar low tracking is applied to 36 cold seasons (October–March) from October 1979 to March 2015. The polar lows over the Sea of Japan reach their maximum intensity on the southeastern side of the midline between the Japanese islands and the Asian continent. Consistent with previous case studies, composite analysis demonstrates that the polar low development is associated with the enhanced northerly flow on the western side of a synoptic-scale extratropical cyclone, with the cold trough in the midtroposphere and with increased heat fluxes from the sea surface. Furthermore, the present climatological study has revealed two dominant directions of motion of the polar lows: southward and eastward. Southward-moving polar lows are steered by a strong northerly flow in the lower troposphere, which is enhanced on the western side of synoptic-scale extratropical cyclones, while the eastward-moving polar lows occur within a planetary-scale westerly flow in the midlatitudes. Thus, the direction of polar low motion reflects the difference in planetary- and synoptic-scale conditions.

Full access
Julia V. Manganello
,
Kevin I. Hodges
,
Benjamin A. Cash
,
James L. Kinter III
,
Eric L. Altshuler
,
Michael J. Fennessy
,
Frederic Vitart
,
Franco Molteni
, and
Peter Towers

Abstract

Seasonal forecast skill of the basinwide and regional tropical cyclone (TC) activity in an experimental coupled prediction system based on the ECMWF System 4 is assessed. As part of a collaboration between the Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies (COLA) and the ECMWF called Project Minerva, the system is integrated at the atmospheric horizontal spectral resolutions of T319, T639, and T1279. Seven-month hindcasts starting from 1 May for the years 1980–2011 are produced at all three resolutions with at least 15 ensemble members. The Minerva system demonstrates statistically significant skill for retrospective forecasts of TC frequency and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) in the North Atlantic (NA), eastern North Pacific (EP), and western North Pacific. While the highest scores overall are achieved in the North Pacific, the skill in the NA appears to be limited by an overly strong influence of the tropical Pacific variability. Higher model resolution improves skill scores for the ACE and, to a lesser extent, the TC frequency, even though the influence of large-scale climate variations on these TC activity measures is largely independent of resolution changes. The biggest gain occurs in transition from T319 to T639. Significant skill in regional TC forecasts is achieved over broad areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The highest-resolution hindcasts exhibit additional locations with skill in the NA and EP, including land-adjacent areas. The feasibility of regional intensity forecasts is assessed. In the presence of the coupled model biases, the benefits of high resolution for seasonal TC forecasting may be underestimated.

Full access