Assessment of winter cyclone activity in a transient ECHAM4-OPYC3 GHG experiment
Pinto, J. G., Spangehl, T., Ulbrich, U. and Speth, P. (2006) Assessment of winter cyclone activity in a transient ECHAM4-OPYC3 GHG experiment. Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 15 (3). pp. 279-291. ISSN 0941-2948
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1127/0941-2948/2006/0128
Winter cyclone activity over the Northern Hemisphere is investigated in an ECHAM4/OPYC3 greenhouse gas scenario simulation. The goal of this investigation is to identify changes in cyclone activity associated with increasing concentrations. To this aim, two 50-year time periods are analysed, one representing present day climate conditions and the other a perturbed climate when CO2 concentrations exceed twice the present concentrations. Cyclone activity is assessed using an automatic algorithm, which identifies and tracks cyclones based on sea level pressure fields. The algorithm detects not only large and long living cyclones over the main ocean basins, but also their smaller counterparts in secondary storm track regions like the Mediterranean Basin. For the present climate, results show a good agreement with NCEP-reanalysis, provided that the spectral and time resolutions of the reanalysis are reduced to those available for the model. Several prominent changes in cyclone activity are observed for the scenario period in comparison to the present day climate, especially over the main ocean basins. A significant decrease of overall cyclone track density is found between 35 and 55 degrees North, together with a small increase polewards. These changes result from two different signals for deep and medium cyclones: for deep cyclones (core pressure below 990 hPa) there is a poleward shift in the greenhouse gas scenario, while for medium cyclones (core pressure between 990 and 1010 hPa) a general decrease in cyclone counts is found. The same kind of changes (a shift for intense cyclones and an overall decrease for the weaker ones) are detected when distinguishing cyclones from their intensity, quantified in terms of ∇2p. Thus, the simulated changes can not solely be attributed to alterations in mean sea level pressure. Instead, corresponding increases in upper-tropospheric baroclinicity suggest more favourable conditions for the development of stronger systems at higher latitudes, especially at the delta regions of the North Atlantic and the North Pacific storm tracks.