Understanding the impact of climate change on Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical cyclones

McDonald, Ruth
October 2011
Climate Dynamics;Oct2011, Vol. 37 Issue 7/8, p1399
Academic Journal
Extra-tropical cyclones strongly influence weather and climate in mid-latitudes and any future changes may have large impacts on the local scale. In this study Northern Hemisphere storms are analysed in ensembles of time-slice experiments carried out with an atmosphere only model with present day and future anthropogenic emissions. The present day experiment is forced by observed sea-surface temperature and sea-ice. The sea-surface temperatures and sea-ice for the future experiment are derived by adding anomalies, from parallel but lower resolution coupled model experiments, to the observed data. The storms in the present day simulation compare fairly well with observations in all seasons but some errors remain. In the future simulations there is some evidence of a poleward shift in the storm tracks in some seasons and regions. There are fewer cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere in winter and spring. The northeast end of the North Atlantic storm track is shifted south in winter giving more storms and increased frequency of strong winds over the British Isles. This shift is related to an increase in baroclinicity and a southward shift of the jet that occurs as a response to a minimum in ocean warming in the central North Atlantic. An increase in the frequency of storms over the UK is likely to cause enhanced levels of wind and flood damage. These results concur with those from some other models, however, large uncertainties remain.


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