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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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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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Brian J. Hoskins and Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to explore the use of both an Eulerian and system-centered method of storm track diagnosis applied to a wide range of meteorological fields at multiple levels to provide a range of perspectives on the Northern Hemisphere winter transient motions and to give new insight into the storm track organization and behavior. The data used are primarily from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts reanalyses project extended with operational analyses to the period 1979–2000. This is supplemented by data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction and Goddard Earth Observing System 1 reanalyses. The range of fields explored include the usual mean sea level pressure and the lower- and upper-tropospheric height, meridional wind, vorticity, and temperature, as well as the potential vorticity (PV) on a 330-K isentropic surface (PV330) and potential temperature on a PV = 2 PVU surface (θ PV2). As well as reporting the primary analysis based on feature tracking, the standard Eulerian 2–6-day bandpass filtered variance analysis is also reported and contrasted with the tracking diagnostics. To enable the feature points to be identified as extrema for all the chosen fields, a planetary wave background structure is removed at each data time. The bandpass filtered variance derived from the different fields yield a rich picture of the nature and comparative magnitudes of the North Pacific and Atlantic storm tracks, and of the Siberian and Mediterranean candidates for storm tracks. The feature tracking allows the cyclonic and anticyclonic activities to be considered seperately. The analysis indicates that anticyclonic features are generally much weaker with less coherence than the cyclonic systems. Cyclones and features associated with them are shown to have much greater coherence and give tracking diagnostics that create a vivid storm track picture that includes the aspects highlighted by the variances as well as highlighting aspects that are not readily available from Eulerian studies. In particular, the upper-tropospheric features as shown by negative θ PV2, for example, occur in a band spiraling around the hemisphere from the subtropical North Atlantic eastward to the high latitudes of the same ocean basin. Lower-troposphere storm tracks occupy more limited longitudinal sectors, with many of the individual storms possibly triggered from the upper-tropospheric disturbances in the spiral band of activity.

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David Anderson, Kevin I. Hodges, and Brian J. Hoskins

Abstract

For the tracking of extrema associated with weather systems to be applied to a broad range of fields it is necessary to remove a background field that represents the slowly varying, large spatial scales. The sensitivity of the tracking analysis to the form of background field removed is explored for the Northern Hemisphere winter storm tracks for three contrasting fields from an integration of the U.K. Met Office's (UKMO) Hadley Centre Climate Model (HadAM3). Several methods are explored for the removal of a background field from the simple subtraction of the climatology, to the more sophisticated removal of the planetary scales. Two temporal filters are also considered in the form of a 2–6-day Lanczos filter and a 20-day high-pass Fourier filter. The analysis indicates that the simple subtraction of the climatology tends to change the nature of the systems to the extent that there is a redistribution of the systems relative to the climatological background resulting in very similar statistical distributions for both positive and negative anomalies. The optimal planetary wave filter removes total wavenumbers less than or equal to a number in the range 5–7, resulting in distributions more easily related to particular types of weather system. For the temporal filters the 2–6-day bandpass filter is found to have a detrimental impact on the individual weather systems, resulting in the storm tracks having a weak waveguide type of behavior. The 20-day high-pass temporal filter is less aggressive than the 2–6-day filter and produces results falling between those of the climatological and 2–6-day filters.

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Julia Curio, Reinhard Schiemannm, Kevin I. Hodges, and Andrew G. Turner

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau (TP) and surrounding high mountains constitute an important forcing of the atmospheric circulation due to their height and extent, and thereby impact weather and climate in downstream regions of East Asia. Mesoscale Tibetan Plateau vortices (TPVs) are one of the major precipitation-producing systems on the TP. A fraction of TPVs move off the TP to the east and can trigger extreme precipitation in parts of China, such as the Sichuan province and the Yangtze River valley, which can result in severe flooding. In this study, the climatology of TPV occurrence is examined in two reanalyses and, for the first time, in a high-resolution global climate model using an objective feature tracking algorithm. Most TPVs are generated in the northwestern part of the TP; the center of this main genesis region is small and stable throughout the year. The strength and position of the subtropical westerly jet is correlated to the distance TPVs can travel eastward and therefore could have an effect on whether or not a TPV is moving off the TP. TPV-associated precipitation can account for up to 40% of the total precipitation in parts of China in selected months, often due to individual TPVs. The results show that the global climate model is able to simulate TPVs at N512 (~25 km) horizontal resolution and in general agrees with the reanalyses. The fact that the global climate model can represent the TPV climatology opens a wide range of options for future model-based research on TPVs.

Open access
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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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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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.

Open access
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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Simon C. Peatman, Nicholas P. Klingaman, and Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The tropical west Pacific Ocean and the Philippines are often affected by tropical cyclones (TCs), with threats to human life and of severe economic damage. The performance of the Met Office global operational forecasts at predicting TC-related precipitation is examined between 2006 and 2017, the first time total TC rainfall has been analyzed in a long-term forecast dataset. All precipitation falling within 5° of a TC track point is assumed to be part of the TC rainbands. Forecasts are verified against TC tracks from the JRA-55 reanalysis and precipitation from TRMM 3B42. In composites from the forecasts, the total precipitation (TC and non-TC) is too high and the TC-related precipitation is too low, over both ocean and the Philippines. These biases exist all year-round and generally worsen with lead time, but have improved in recent years with upgrades to the forecasting system. Biases in TC-related precipitation in the Philippines are attributable mainly to TC lifetime being too short over land and ocean and (over land) possibly to individual TCs producing too little rain. There are considerable biases in predicted large-scale conditions related to TC intensification, particularly too little lower-troposphere relative humidity and too strong vertical wind shear. The shear appears to have little impact on the amount of TC precipitation, but dry biases in humidity are consistent with dry biases in TC rainfall. The forecast system accurately reproduces the impact of the MJO on TC precipitation, relative to the forecasts’ own climatology, potentially providing the opportunity for predictability out to several weeks.

Open access