, Volume 26, Issue 7-8, pp 713-728

Changes in winter cyclone frequencies and strengths simulated in enhanced greenhouse warming experiments: results from the models participating in the IPCC diagnostic exercise

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Abstract

The effect of enhanced greenhouse warming on the behaviour of mid-latitude cyclones is examined for changes in the total number of cyclone events and for changes in the number of intense events using the daily averaged mean sea level pressure simulated by coupled climate models participating in the IPCC AR4 (Fourth Assessment Report) diagnostic exercise. Results are presented for a set of scenarios which were produced using a wide range of increasing levels of greenhouse gases. For the enhanced greenhouse warming experiments, the models simulated a reduction in the total number of events and an increase in the number of intense events. This is a robust result, which essentially all the models exhibit. Comparison of the results for each of the scenarios shows that the magnitude of the changes in the number of simulated events increases with increasing levels greenhouse gas forcing used in the scenarios. Even though the numbers of events change, there is no apparent change seen in the geographical distribution of the events, i.e. there is no obvious change in the positions of the storm tracks seen on hemispheric charts. This was also evident in the results for the filtered variance of the meridional wind which was used as a proxy for cyclone activity. In spite of this, it is possible that small shifts in the storm tracks, which are difficult to resolve with the relatively coarse grid used for analysis, could occur.