Northern Hemisphere extratropical cyclones in a warming climate in the HiGEM high-resolution climate model
Catto, J. L., Shaffrey, L. C. and Hodges, K. I. (2011) Northern Hemisphere extratropical cyclones in a warming climate in the HiGEM high-resolution climate model. Journal of Climate, 24 (20). pp. 5336-5352. ISSN 1520-0442
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/2011JCLI4181.1
Changes to the Northern Hemisphere winter (December, January and February) extratropical storm tracks and cyclones in a warming climate are investigated. Two idealised climate change experiments with 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 given to regional changes. The climatology of extratropical storm tracks from the control run is shown to be in good agreement with 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 IPCC AR4 models, with a strongly enhanced surface warming at the winter pole and the 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 idealised 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 north eastward shift of the storm tracks in the 2XCO2 experiment, but no shift in the 4XCO2 experiment. Over the Pacific, in the 2XCO2 experiment, changes in the mean climate are associated with local temperature changes, while in the 4XCO2 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 850hPa vorticity, mean sea level pressure, and 850hPa winds. The intensity of the Northern Hemisphere cyclones is found to decrease relative to the control.