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Lisa-Ann Quandt, Julia H. Keller, Olivia Martius, Joaquim G. Pinto, and Sarah C. Jones


In summer 2010, the weather conditions in the Euro-Russian sector were affected by a long-lasting atmospheric block that led to a heat wave in Russia and floods in Pakistan. Following previous studies describing the block’s predictability, the present study aims to investigate uncertainties in the upper-level wave pattern and diabatic processes that were responsible for the block’s forecast variability during its onset, mature, and decay phases. With this aim, an ensemble sensitivity analysis (ESA) is performed for three medium-range THORPEX Interactive Grand Global Ensemble multimodel ensemble forecasts, one associated with each phase of the block’s life cycle. The ESA revealed that the block’s predictability was influenced by forecast uncertainties in the general wave pattern and in the vertically integrated water vapor transport (IVT), used here as a proxy for diabatic processes. These uncertainties are associated with spatial shifts and intensity changes of synoptic waves and IVT during the whole life cycle of the block. During the onset phase, specific features include an Atlantic precursor block and the occurrence of several cyclones. During the mature stage, the blocking ridge itself was highly predictable, while forecast uncertainties in the wave pattern and in IVT primarily were associated with uncertainties in the block’s western flank. During the decay phase, the ESA signals were less intense, but the forecast variability significantly depended on the transformation of the block into a high-over-low pattern. It can be concluded that ESA is suitable to investigate the block’s forecast variability in multimodel ensembles.

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Lisa-Ann Quandt, Julia H. Keller, Olivia Martius, and Sarah C. Jones


The Euro–Russian atmospheric blocking pattern in the summer of 2010 was related to high-impact weather, including a mega–heat wave in Russia. A set of scenarios for the synoptic evolution during the onset, mature stage, and decay of the block are extracted from the THORPEX Interactive Grand Global Ensemble multimodel ensemble forecast. These scenarios represent the key features of the forecast variability of the block and of the resulting surface impacts. Two heat indices and a fire index are computed to highlight the forecast variability in societal impacts. The study is a proof of concept, showing how information about surface impacts can be derived from available operational ensemble forecasts in an effective manner, and pointing to possible difficulties in this approach. Comparing the forecast for the heat wave’s impact on large spatial domains, and on a near-gridpoint scale, identifies challenges forecasters may face when predicting the development of a heat wave.

Although the block’s onset was highly predictable, the increase in temperature and the extension of the heat-affected area differed between the scenarios. During the mature stage of the block, the variability of its western flank had a considerable influence on the precipitation and heat distribution. Since the blocking was maintained after the analyzed decay in two of three scenarios, the predictability of the decay was low in this forecast. The heat wave ended independently from the block’s decay, as the surface temperature and the impact indices decreased in all scenarios.

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