EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts
Vol. 18, EMS2021-340, 2021
EMS Annual Meeting 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Precipitation associated with extra-tropical cyclones: response to uniform global warming and to polar amplification

Victoria Sinclair1 and Jennifer Catto2
Victoria Sinclair and Jennifer Catto
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) / Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (victoria.sinclair@helsinki.fi)
  • 2College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, UK

Extra-tropical cyclones constitute a large part of the circulation in the mid-latitudes and can lead to high impact weather. Therefore, it is beneficial to society to determine how these storms and their associated weather may change in the future. We focus on precipitation associated with extra-tropical cyclones (ETCs) and first aim to determine how the relationship between dynamical measures (e.g. maximum relative vorticity) of cyclone intensity and ETC related precipitation will response to climate change. Secondly, because not all ETCs are the same, we investigate whether the relationship between ETC precipitation and ETC intensity depends on the type of cyclone. Finally, we examine whether certain types of ETCs, in terms of their precipitation patterns, are likely to become more or less common in the future. We address these questions using aqua-planet simulations performed using an atmosphere-only model (OpenIFS) with fixed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The simulations are run at T255 resolution (~ 80 km) and are 10 years long which generates a very large sample size of ETCs (> 14,000). The three simulations differ only in terms of the specific SST distribution: a control simulation is performed with the well-known “QObs” SST distributions, the second simulation has a uniform warming of 4K applied everywhere, and the third simulation is a polar amplification experiment with a 5K warming poleward of 45 degrees. In each experiment, all ETCs are objectively identified and tracked. Different types of cyclones are identified by applying k-means clustering to the precipitation pattern within a 12-degree radius of the cyclone centre. In all three experiments, more dynamically intense ETCs have more precipitation associated with them but there is considerable spread. Uniform warming strengthens this relationship and hence a ETC of a certain dynamical intensity will have more precipitation associated with it in a warmer climate. Clustering identifies 4 distinct types of ETCs in terms of their precipitation patterns: ETCs with most precipitation associated with the warm front; ETCs dominated by cold front precipitation; ETCs dominated by cyclone-centred precipitation; ETCs with very little precipitation. All 4 cyclone types appear in each experiment. Uniform warming causes a notable increase in the number of ETCs with precipitation concentrated on the warm front and a decrease in the number of ETCs with weak precipitation. In contrast, polar warming causes a large increase in the number of ETCs with weak precipitation and ETCs dominated by cold front precipitation decrease in number. These results, and others, will be presented along with dynamical interpretations.

How to cite: Sinclair, V. and Catto, J.: Precipitation associated with extra-tropical cyclones: response to uniform global warming and to polar amplification, EMS Annual Meeting 2021, online, 6–10 Sep 2021, EMS2021-340, https://doi.org/10.5194/ems2021-340, 2021.


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