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Lennart Bengtsson
,
Kevin I. Hodges
, and
Erich Roeckner

Abstract

Extratropical and tropical transient storm tracks are investigated from the perspective of feature tracking in the ECHAM5 coupled climate model for the current and a future climate scenario. The atmosphere-only part of the model, forced by observed boundary conditions, produces results that agree well with analyses from the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40), including the distribution of storms as a function of maximum intensity. This provides the authors with confidence in the use of the model for the climate change experiments. The statistical distribution of storm intensities is virtually preserved under climate change using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario until the end of this century. There are no indications in this study of more intense storms in the future climate, either in the Tropics or extratropics, but rather a minor reduction in the number of weaker storms. However, significant changes occur on a regional basis in the location and intensity of storm tracks. There is a clear poleward shift in the Southern Hemisphere with consequences of reduced precipitation for several areas, including southern Australia. Changes in the Northern Hemisphere are less distinct, but there are also indications of a poleward shift, a weakening of the Mediterranean storm track, and a strengthening of the storm track north of the British Isles. The tropical storm tracks undergo considerable changes including a weakening in the Atlantic sector and a strengthening and equatorward shift in the eastern Pacific. It is suggested that some of the changes, in particular the tropical ones, are due to an SST warming maximum in the eastern Pacific. The shift in the extratropical storm tracks is shown to be associated with changes in the zonal SST gradient in particular for the Southern Hemisphere.

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Lennart Bengtsson
,
Kevin I. Hodges
, and
Noel Keenlyside

Abstract

Extratropical cyclones and how they may change in a warmer climate have been investigated in detail with a high-resolution version of the ECHAM5 global climate model. A spectral resolution of T213 (63 km) is used for two 32-yr periods at the end of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and integrated for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A1B scenario. Extremes of pressure, vorticity, wind, and precipitation associated with the cyclones are investigated and compared with a lower-resolution simulation. Comparison with observations of extreme wind speeds indicates that the model reproduces realistic values.

This study also investigates the ability of the model to simulate extratropical cyclones by computing composites of intense storms and contrasting them with the same composites from the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40). Composites of the time evolution of intense cyclones are reproduced with great fidelity; in particular the evolution of central surface pressure is almost exactly replicated, but vorticity, maximum wind speed, and precipitation are higher in the model. Spatial composites also show that the distributions of pressure, winds, and precipitation at different stages of the cyclone life cycle compare well with those from ERA-40, as does the vertical structure.

For the twenty-first century, changes in the distribution of storms are very similar to those of previous study. There is a small reduction in the number of cyclones but no significant changes in the extremes of wind and vorticity in both hemispheres. There are larger regional changes in agreement with previous studies.

The largest changes are in the total precipitation, where a significant increase is seen. Cumulative precipitation along the tracks of the cyclones increases by some 11% per track, or about twice the increase in global precipitation, while the extreme precipitation is close to the globally averaged increase in column water vapor (some 27%). Regionally, changes in extreme precipitation are even higher because of changes in the storm tracks.

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Jennifer L. Catto
,
Len C. Shaffrey
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

Changes to the Northern Hemisphere winter (December–February) extratropical storm tracks and cyclones in a warming climate are investigated. Two idealized climate change experiments with the High Resolution Global Environmental Model version 1.1 (HiGEM1.1), a doubled CO2 and a quadrupled CO2 experiment, are compared against a present-day control run. An objective feature tracking method is used and a focus is given to regional changes. The climatology of extratropical storm tracks from the control run is shown to be in good agreement with the 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA-40), while the frequency distribution of cyclone intensity also compares well.

In both simulations the mean climate changes are generally consistent with the simulations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) models, with strongly enhanced surface warming at the winter pole and reduced lower-tropospheric warming over the North Atlantic Ocean associated with the slowdown of the meridional overturning circulation. The circulation changes in the North Atlantic are different between the two idealized simulations with different CO2 forcings. In the North Atlantic the storm tracks are influenced by the slowdown of the MOC, the enhanced surface polar warming, and the enhanced upper tropical-troposphere warming, giving a northeastward shift of the storm tracks in the 2 × CO2 experiment but no shift in the 4 × CO2 experiment.

Over the Pacific, in the 2 × CO2 experiment, changes in the mean climate are associated with local temperature changes, while in the 4 × CO2 experiment the changes in the Pacific are impacted by the weakened tropical circulation. The storm-track changes are consistent with the shifts in the zonal wind.

Total cyclone numbers are found to decrease over the Northern Hemisphere with increasing CO2 forcing. Changes in cyclone intensity are found using 850-hPa vorticity, mean sea level pressure, and 850-hPa winds. The intensity of the Northern Hemisphere cyclones is found to decrease relative to the control.

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Giuseppe Zappa
,
Len C. Shaffrey
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The ability of the climate models participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) to simulate North Atlantic extratropical cyclones in winter [December–February (DJF)] and summer [June–August (JJA)] is investigated in detail. Cyclones are identified as maxima in T42 vorticity at 850 hPa and their propagation is tracked using an objective feature-tracking algorithm. By comparing the historical CMIP5 simulations (1976–2005) and the ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim; 1979–2008), the authors find that systematic biases affect the number and intensity of North Atlantic cyclones in CMIP5 models. In DJF, the North Atlantic storm track tends to be either too zonal or displaced southward, thus leading to too few and weak cyclones over the Norwegian Sea and too many cyclones in central Europe. In JJA, the position of the North Atlantic storm track is generally well captured but some CMIP5 models underestimate the total number of cyclones. The dynamical intensity of cyclones, as measured by either T42 vorticity at 850 hPa or mean sea level pressure, is too weak in both DJF and JJA. The intensity bias has a hemispheric character, and it cannot be simply attributed to the representation of the North Atlantic large-scale atmospheric state. Despite these biases, the representation of Northern Hemisphere (NH) storm tracks has improved since CMIP3 and some CMIP5 models are able of representing well both the number and the intensity of North Atlantic cyclones. In particular, some of the higher-atmospheric-resolution models tend to have a better representation of the tilt of the North Atlantic storm track and of the intensity of cyclones in DJF.

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Lennart Bengtsson
,
Kevin I. Hodges
,
Symeon Koumoutsaris
,
Matthias Zahn
, and
Paul Berrisford

Abstract

Energy fluxes for polar regions are examined for two 30-yr periods, representing the end of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, using data from high-resolution simulations with the ECHAM5 climate model. The net radiation to space for the present climate agrees well with data from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) over the northern polar region but shows an underestimation in planetary albedo for the southern polar region. This suggests there are systematic errors in the atmospheric circulation or in the net surface energy fluxes in the southern polar region. The simulation of the future climate is based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A1B scenario. The total energy transport is broadly the same for the two 30-yr periods, but there is an increase in the moist energy transport on the order of 6 W m−2 and a corresponding reduction in the dry static energy. For the southern polar region the proportion of moist energy transport is larger and the dry static energy correspondingly smaller for both periods.

The results suggest a possible mechanism for the warming of the Arctic that is discussed. Changes between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the northern polar region show the net ocean surface radiation flux in summer increases ~18 W m−2 (24%). For the southern polar region the response is different as there is a decrease in surface solar radiation. It is suggested that this is caused by changes in cloudiness associated with the poleward migration of the storm tracks.

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Jennifer L. Catto
,
Len C. Shaffrey
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

Composites of wind speeds, equivalent potential temperature, mean sea level pressure, vertical velocity, and relative humidity have been produced for the 100 most intense extratropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere winter for the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) and the high resolution global environment model (HiGEM). Features of conceptual models of cyclone structure—the warm conveyor belt, cold conveyor belt, and dry intrusion—have been identified in the composites from ERA-40 and compared to HiGEM. Such features can be identified in the composite fields despite the smoothing that occurs in the compositing process. The surface features and the three-dimensional structure of the cyclones in HiGEM compare very well with those from ERA-40. The warm conveyor belt is identified in the temperature and wind fields as a mass of warm air undergoing moist isentropic uplift and is very similar in ERA-40 and HiGEM. The rate of ascent is lower in HiGEM, associated with a shallower slope of the moist isentropes in the warm sector. There are also differences in the relative humidity fields in the warm conveyor belt. In ERA-40, the high values of relative humidity are strongly associated with the moist isentropic uplift, whereas in HiGEM these are not so strongly associated. The cold conveyor belt is identified as rearward flowing air that undercuts the warm conveyor belt and produces a low-level jet, and is very similar in HiGEM and ERA-40. The dry intrusion is identified in the 500-hPa vertical velocity and relative humidity. The structure of the dry intrusion compares well between HiGEM and ERA-40 but the descent is weaker in HiGEM because of weaker along-isentrope flow behind the composite cyclone. HiGEM’s ability to represent the key features of extratropical cyclone structure can give confidence in future predictions from this model.

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Yolande L. Serra
,
George N. Kiladis
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

Easterly waves (EWs) are prominent features of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), found in both the Atlantic and Pacific during the Northern Hemisphere summer and fall, where they commonly serve as precursors to hurricanes over both basins. A large proportion of Atlantic EWs are known to form over Africa, but the origin of EWs over the Caribbean and east Pacific in particular has not been established in detail. In this study reanalyses are used to examine the coherence of the large-scale wave signatures and to obtain track statistics and energy conversion terms for EWs across this region. Regression analysis demonstrates that some EW kinematic structures readily propagate between the Atlantic and east Pacific, with the highest correlations observed across Costa Rica and Panama. Track statistics are consistent with this analysis and suggest that some individual waves are maintained as they pass from the Atlantic into the east Pacific, whereas others are generated locally in the Caribbean and east Pacific. Vortex anomalies associated with the waves are observed on the leeward side of the Sierra Madre, propagating northwestward along the coast, consistent with previous modeling studies of the interactions between zonal flow and EWs with model topography similar to the Sierra Madre. An energetics analysis additionally indicates that the Caribbean low-level jet and its extension into the east Pacific—known as the Papagayo jet—are a source of energy for EWs in the region. Two case studies support these statistics, as well as demonstrate the modulation of EW track and storm development location by the MJO.

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Micheld S. Mesquita
,
David E. Atkinson
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The North Pacific and Bering Sea regions represent loci of cyclogenesis and storm track activity. In this paper climatological properties of extratropical storms in the North Pacific/Bering Sea are presented based upon aggregate statistics of individual storm tracks calculated by means of a feature-tracking algorithm run using NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data from 1948/49 to 2008, provided by the NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Climate Diagnostics Center. Storm identification is based on the 850-hPa relative vorticity field (ζ) instead of the often-used mean sea level pressure; ζ is a prognostic field, a good indicator of synoptic-scale dynamics, and is directly related to the wind speed. Emphasis extends beyond winter to provide detailed consideration of all seasons.

Results show that the interseasonal variability is not as large during the spring and autumn seasons. Most of the storm variables—genesis, intensity, track density—exhibited a maxima pattern that was oriented along a zonal axis. From season to season this axis underwent a north–south shift and, in some cases, a rotation to the northeast. This was determined to be a result of zonal heating variations and midtropospheric moisture patterns. Barotropic processes have an influence in shaping the downstream end of storm tracks and, together with the blocking influence of the coastal orography of northwest North America, result in high lysis concentrations, effectively making the Gulf of Alaska the “graveyard” of Pacific storms. Summer storms tended to be longest in duration. Temporal trends tended to be weak over the study area. SST did not emerge as a major cyclogenesis control in the Gulf of Alaska.

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Katherine E. Lukens
,
Ernesto Hugo Berbery
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

Northern Hemisphere winter storm tracks and their relation to winter weather are investigated using NCEP CFSR data. Storm tracks are described by isentropic PV maxima within a Lagrangian framework; these correspond well with those described in previous studies. The current diagnostics focus on strong-storm tracks, which comprise storms that achieve a maximum PV exceeding the mean value by one standard deviation. Large increases in diabatic heating related to deep convection occur where the storm tracks are most intense. The cyclogenesis pattern shows that strong storms generally develop on the upstream sectors of the tracks. Intensification happens toward the eastern North Pacific and all across the North Atlantic Ocean, where enhanced storm-track-related weather is found. In this study, the relation of storm tracks to near-surface winds and precipitation is evaluated. The largest increases in storm-track-related winds are found where strong storms tend to develop and intensify, while storm precipitation is enhanced in areas where the storm tracks have their highest intensity. Strong storms represent about 16% of all storms but contribute 30%–50% of the storm precipitation in the storm-track regions. Both strong-storm-related winds and precipitation are prone to cause storm-related losses in the eastern U.S. and North American coasts. Over the oceans, maritime operations are expected to be most vulnerable to damage offshore of the U.S. coasts. Despite making up a small fraction of all storms, the strong-storm tracks have a significant imprint on winter weather in North America potentially leading to structural and economic loss.

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Daniel J. Befort
,
Kevin I. Hodges
, and
Antje Weisheimer

Abstract

In this study, tropical cyclones (TCs) over the western North Pacific (WNP) and North Atlantic (NA) basins are analyzed in seasonal forecasting models from five European modeling centers. Most models are able to capture the observed seasonal cycle of TC frequencies over both basins; however, large differences for numbers and spatial track densities are found. In agreement with previous studies, TC numbers are often underestimated, which is likely related to coarse model resolutions. Besides shortcomings in TC characteristics, significant positive skill (deterministic and probabilistic) in predicting TC numbers and accumulated cyclone energy is found over both basins. Whereas the predictions of TC numbers over the WNP basin are mostly unreliable, most seasonal forecast provide reliable predictions for the NA basin. Besides positive skill over the entire NA basin, all seasonal forecasting models are skillful in predicting the interannual TC variability over a region covering the Caribbean and North American coastline, suggesting that the models carry useful information, including for adaptation and mitigation purposes ahead of the upcoming TC season. However, skill in all forecast models over a smaller region centered along the Asian coastline is smaller compared to their skill in the entire WNP basin.

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