, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 19-36

Tropical storms: representation and diagnosis in climate models and the impacts of climate change

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Abstract

Tropical storms are located and tracked in an experiment in which a high-resolution atmosphere only model is forced with observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and sea ice. The structure, geographic distribution and seasonal variability of the model tropical storms show some similarities with observations. The simulation of tropical storms is better in this high-resolution experiment than in a parallel standard resolution experiment. In an anomaly experiment, sea ice, SSTs and greenhouse-gas forcing are changed to mimic the changes that occur in a coupled model as greenhouse-gases are increased. There are more tropical storms in this experiment than in the control experiment in the Northeast Pacific and Indian Ocean basins and fewer in the North Atlantic, Northwest Pacific and Southwest Pacific region. The changes in the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific can be linked to El Niño-like behaviour. A comparison of the tracking results with two empirically derived tropical storm genesis parameters is carried out. The tracking technique and a convective genesis parameter give similar results, both in the global distribution and in the changes in the individual basins. The convective genesis parameter is also applied to parallel coupled model experiments that have a lower horizontal resolution. The changes in the global distribution of tropical storms in the coupled model experiments are consistent with the changes seen at higher resolution. This indicates that the convective genesis parameter may still provide useful information about tropical storm changes in experiments carried out with models that cannot resolve tropical storms.