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Sensitivity of identifying cut‑off lows in the Southern Hemisphere using multiple criteria: Implications for numbers, seasonality and intensity

Pinheiro, H. R., Hodges, K. I. and Gan, M. A. (2019) Sensitivity of identifying cut‑off lows in the Southern Hemisphere using multiple criteria: Implications for numbers, seasonality and intensity. Climate Dynamics, 53 (11). pp. 6699-6713. ISSN 0930-7575

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-019-04984-x


Cut-off Low (COLs) are often associated with heavy precipitation and strong wind events, but there are still uncertainties on how their identification affect the numbers and seasonality. This paper aims to determine the sensitivity of identifying Southern Hemisphere COLs in the ERA-Interim reanalysis to different types of identification criteria. Upper-level cyclones are initially tracked on the 300 hPa level using relative vorticity and geopotential in order to present different perspectives. This reveals significant differences between the numbers and length of the identified tracks for the two fields. To identify the COLs different post-tracking filters are applied which are divided into two steps. Firstly, three filters are considered to separate cut-off lows from open troughs by sampling winds at different offset radial distances from the upper-level cyclonic centres. Secondly, potential vorticity and temperature criteria are imposed to determine how these conditions affect the identified COLs in terms of numbers, seasonality and intensity. It was found that methods based on multiple criteria restrict the COL identification by imposing specific characteristics, while methods based on simpler schemes (e.g. using only winds) can detect larger samples of COLs observed visually in the geopotential maps. Although it is difficult to say which method is more accurate in identifying COLs, because of the subjective aspect of observer’s assessment, a scheme using only winds should be more representative of reality as this simply imposes on the detection system a cyclonic circulation appearance regardless of the physical and dynamical characteristics. Therefore, this type of method could be considered as a standard method for identifying COLs that can be used for either operational or research purposes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:86254


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