Climate Dynamics

, Volume 30, Issue 7–8, pp 871–885 | Cite as

Marine cold-air outbreaks in the future: an assessment of IPCC AR4 model results for the Northern Hemisphere

Article

Abstract

For many locations around the globe some of the most severe weather is associated with outbreaks of cold air over relatively warm oceans, referred to here as marine cold-air outbreaks (MCAOs). Drawing on empirical evidence, an MCAO indicator is defined here as the difference between the skin potential temperature, which over open ocean is the sea surface potential temperature, and the potential temperature at 700 hPa. Rare MCAOs are defined as the 95th percentile of this indicator. Climate model data that have been provided as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report Four (AR4) were used to assess the models’ projections for the twenty-first century and their ability to represent the observed climatology of MCAOs. The ensemble average of the models broadly captures the observed spatial distribution of the strength of MCAOs. However, there are some significant differences between the models and observations, which are mainly associated with simulated biases of the underlying sea ice, such as excessive sea-ice extent over the Barents Sea in most of the models. The future changes of the strength of MCAOs vary significantly across the Northern Hemisphere. The largest projected weakening of MCAOs is over the Labrador Sea. Over the Nordic seas the main region of strong MCAOs will move north and weaken slightly as it moves away from the warm tongue of the Gulf Stream in the Norwegian Sea. Over the Sea of Japan there is projected to be only a small weakening of MCAOs. The implications of the results for mesoscale weather systems that are associated with MCAOs, namely polar lows and arctic fronts, are discussed.

Keywords

Skin Temperature Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation North Atlantic Oscillation Index Arctic Front North Atlantic Deep Water Formation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their thorough and useful comments. Erik Kolstad thanks Burghard Brümmer and Stephen Mobbs for fruitful discussions. Alan Condron is thanked for taking part in the initial planning of the paper. This is publication no. A179 from the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research. We also acknowledge the modelling groups for making their simulations available for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Inter-Comparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the CMIP3 model output, and the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for organizing the model data analysis activity. The WCRP CMIP3 multi-model dataset is supported by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy.

References

  1. Arzel O, Fichefet T, Goosse H (2006) Sea ice evolution over the 20th and 21st centuries as simulated by current AOGCMs. Ocean Modelling 12:401–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bengtsson L, Hodges K, Roeckner E (2006) Storm tracks and climate change. J Clim 19:3518–3543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bond N, Shapiro M (1991) Polar lows over the Gulf of Alaska in conditions of reverse shear. Mon Weather Rev 119:551–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boyle JS (1986) Synoptic conditions in midlatitudes accompanying cold surges for the months of December 1974 and 1978. Part I: Monthly mean fields and individual events. Mon Weather Rev 114:903–918CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bracegirdle TJ, Gray SL (2007) A new climatology of the dynamical forcing of polar lows. Int J Climatol (in press)Google Scholar
  6. Bresch JF, Reed RJ, Albright MD (1997) A polar-low development over the Bering Sea: nalysis, numerical simulation, and sensitivity experiments. Mon Weather Rev 125:3109–3130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bromwich DH, Fogt RL, Hodges KI, Walsh JE (2007) A tropospheric assessment of the ERA-40, NCEP, and JRA-25 global reanalyses in the polar regions. J Geophys Res 112:D10111. doi: 10.1029/2006JD007859 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brümmer B (1996) Boundary-layer modification in wintertime cold-air outbreaks from the arctic sea ice. Bound Layer Meteorol 80:109–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Businger S (1985) The synoptic climatology of polar low outbreaks. Tellus 37A:419–432Google Scholar
  10. Businger S (1987) The synoptic climatology of polar low outbreaks over the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Tellus 39A:307–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Businger S, Baik JJ (1991) An arctic hurricane over the Bering Sea. Mon Weather Rev 119:2293–2322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Businger S, Graziano T, Kaplan M, Rozumalski R (2005) Cold-air cyclogenesis along the Gulf-Stream front: investigation of diabatic impacts on cyclone development, frontal structure, and track. Meteorol Atmos Phys 88:65–90. doi: 10.1007/s00703-003-0050-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Camargo SJ, Sobel AH, Barnston AG, Emanuel KA (2007) Tropical cyclone genesis potential index in climate models. Tellus 59A:428–443Google Scholar
  14. Claud C, Heinemann G, Raustein E, McMurdie L (2004) Polar low le Cygne: satellite observations and numerical simulations. Quart J Roy Meteorol Soc 130:1075–1102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Craig G, Gray S (1996) CISK or WISHE as the mechanism for tropical cyclone intensification. J Atmos Sci 53:3528–3540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Delworth T, Greatbatch R (2000) Multidecadal thermohaline circulation variability driven by atmospheric surface flux forcing. J Clim 13:1481–1495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deser C, Walsh J, Timlin M (2000) Arctic sea ice variability in the context of recent atmospheric circulation trends. J Clim 13:617–633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dorman CE, Beardsley RC, Dashko NA, Friehe CA, Kheilf D, Cho K, Limeburner R, Varlamov SM (2004) Winter marine atmospheric conditions over the Japan Sea. J Geophys Res 109:C12011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Douglas M, Fedor L, Shapiro M (1991) Polar low structure over the northern Gulf of Alaska based on research aircraft observations. Mon Weather Rev 119:32–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Drüe C, Heinemann G (2001) Airborne investigation of arctic boundary-layer fronts over the marginal ice zone of the Davis Strait. Bound Layer Meteorol 101:261–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Emanuel K, Rotunno R (1989) Polar lows as arctic hurricanes. Tellus 41A:1–17Google Scholar
  22. Frierson DMW (2006) Robust increases in midlatitude static stability in simulations of global warming. Geophys Res Lett 33:L24816. doi: 10.1029/2006GL027504 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fu G, Niino H, Kimura R, Kato T (2004) A polar low over the Japan Sea on 21 January 1997. Part I: Observational analysis. Mon Weather Rev 132:1537–1551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gregory JM, Dixon KW, Stouffer RJ, Weaver AJ, Driesschaert E, Eby M, Fichefet T, Hasumi H, Hu A, Jungclaus JH, Kamenkovich IV, Levermann A, Montoya M, Murakami S, Nawrath S, Oka A, Sokolov AP, Thorpe RB (2005) A model intercomparison of changes in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation in response to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Geophys Res Lett 32:L12703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Griffies SM, Tziperman E (1995) A linear thermohaline oscillator driven by stochastic atmospheric forcing. J Clim 8:2440–2453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grønås S, Skeie P (1999) A case study of strong winds at an Arctic front. Tellus 51A:865–879Google Scholar
  27. Grossman RL, Betts AK (1990) Air–sea interaction during an extreme cold air outbreak from the eastern coast of the United States. Mon Weather Rev 118:324–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hakkinen S (1995) Simulated interannual variability of the Greenland sea deep-water formation and its connection to surface forcing. J Geophys Res 100:4761–4770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Houghton J, Ding Y, Griggs D, Noguer M, van der Linden P, Xiaosu D (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis: contributions of working group I to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. Jagger TH, Elsner JB (2006) Climatology models for extreme hurricane winds near the United States. J Clim 19:3220–3236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Johannessen OM, Bengtsson L, Miles MW, Kuzmina SI, Semenov VA, Alekseev GV, Nagurnyi AP, Zakharov VF, Bobylev LP, Pettersson LH, Hasselmann K, Cattle AP (2004) Arctic climate change: observed and modelled temperature and sea-ice variability. Tellus 56A:328–341Google Scholar
  32. Kolstad EW (2006) A new climatology of favourable conditions for reverse-shear polar lows. Tellus 58A:344–354Google Scholar
  33. Konrad CE, Colucci SJ (1989) An examination of extreme cold air outbreaks over eastern North America. Mon Weather Rev 117:2687–2700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kristjansson J (1990) Model simulations of an intense meso-beta scale cyclone. The role of condensation parameterization. Tellus 42A:78–91Google Scholar
  35. Langland RH, Tag PM, Fett RW (1989) An ice breeze mechanism for boundary-layer jets. Bound Layer Meteorol 48:177–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Levermann A, Griesel A, Hofmann M, Montoya M, Rahmstorf S (2005) Dynamic sea level changes following changes in the thermohaline circulation. Clim Dyn 24:347–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Liu A, Moore G, Tsuboki K, Renfrew I (2006) The effect of the sea-ice zone on the development of boundary-layer roll clouds during cold air outbreaks. Bound Layer Meteorol 118:557–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lystad M (1986) Polar lows project; final report: polar lows in the Norwegian, Greenland and Barents Sea. Technical report, The Norwegian Meteorological Institute (DNMI), Oslo, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  39. Mailhot J, Hanley D, Bilodeau B, Hertzman O (1996) A numerical case study of a polar low in the Labrador Sea. Tellus 48A:383–402Google Scholar
  40. McCabe GJ, Clark MP, Serreze MC (2001) Trends in Northern Hemisphere surface cyclone frequency and intensity. J Clim 14:2763–2768CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Moore G, Renfrew I (2002) An assessment of the surface turbulent heat fluxes from the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis over the western boundary currents. J Clim 15:2020–2037CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ninomiya K, Nishimura T, Suzuki T, Matsumura S (2006) Polar-air outbreak and air-mass transformation over the east coast of Asia as simulated by an AGCM. J Meteorol Soc Japan 84:47–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Noer G, Ovhed M (2003) Forecasting of polar lows in the Norwegian and the Barents Sea. In: Proceedings of the 9th meeting of the EGS Polar Lows Working Group, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  44. Nordeng T (1990) A model-based diagnostic study of the development and maintenance mechanisms of two polar lows. Tellus 42A:92–108Google Scholar
  45. Nordeng T, Rasmussen E (1992) A most beautiful polar low—a case-study of a polar low development in the Bear-Island region. Tellus 44A:81–99Google Scholar
  46. Økland H (1998) Modification of frontal circulations by surface heat flux. Tellus 50A:211–218Google Scholar
  47. Pagowski M, Moore G (2001) A numerical study of an extreme cold-air outbreak over the Labrador Sea: sea ice, air–sea interaction, and development of polar lows. Mon Weather Rev 129:47–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pickart RS, Torres DJ, Clarke RA (2002) Hydrography of the Labrador Sea during active convection. J Phys Oceanogr 32:428–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rasmussen E, Turner J (2003) Polar lows: mesoscale weather systems at high latitudes. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  50. Renfrew IA, Moore G (1999) An extreme cold-air outbreak over the Labrador Sea: roll vortices and air–sea interaction. Mon Weather Rev 127:2379–2394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Renfrew I, Moore G, Holt T, Chang S, Guest P (1999) Mesoscale forecasting during a field program: meteorological support of the Labrador Sea deep convection experiment. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 80:605–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ronski S, Budeus G (2005) Time series of winter convection in the Greenland Sea. J Geophys Res 110:C04015. doi: 10.1029/2004JC002318 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sardie JM, Warner TT (1983) On the mechanism for the development of polar lows. J Atmos Sci 40:869–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schmittner A, Latif M, Schneider B (2005) Model projections of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation for the 21st century assessed by observations. Geophys Res Lett 32:L23710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Serreze MC, Maslanik JA, Scambos TA, Fetterer F, J Stroeve KK, Fowler C, Drobot S, Barry RG, Haran TM (2002) A record minimum arctic sea ice extent and area in 2002. Geophys Res Lett 30:2002GL016406Google Scholar
  56. Shapiro M, Fedor L (1989) A case study of an ice edge boundary layer front and polar low development over the Norwegian and Barents Seas. In: Polar and Arctic Lows, A Deepak, Hampton, VA, USAGoogle Scholar
  57. Shapiro M, Hampel T, Fedor L (1989) Research aircraft observations of an arctic front over the Barents Sea. In: Polar and Arctic Lows, A Deepak, Hampton, VA, USAGoogle Scholar
  58. Sorteberg A, Kvingedal B (2006) Atmospheric forcing on the Barents Sea winter ice extent. J Clim 19:4772–4784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stephenson DB, Pavan V, Collins M, Junge MM, Quadrelli R, Groups PCM (2006) North atlantic oscillation response to transient greenhouse gas forcing and the impact on European winter climate: a CMIP2 multi-model assessment. Clim Dyn 27:401–420. doi: 10.1007/s00382-006-0140-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stocker TF (2002) North-south connections. Science 297:1814–1815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Uppala SM, Kallberg PW, Simmons AJ, Andrae U, Bechtold VD, Fiorino M, Gibson JK, Haseler J, Hernandez A, Kelly GA, Li X, Onogi K, Saarinen S, Sokka N, Allan RP, Andersson E, Arpe K, Balmaseda MA, Beljaars ACM, Van De Berg L, Bidlot J, Bormann N, Caires S, Chevallier F, Dethof A, Dragosavac M, Fisher M, Fuentes M, Hagemann S, Holm E, Hoskins BJ, Isaksen L, Janssen PAEM, Jenne R, McNally AP, Mahfouf JF, Morcrette JJ, Rayner NA, Saunders RW, Simon P, Sterl A, Trenberth KE, Untch A, Vasiljevic D, Viterbo P, Woollen J (2005) The ERA-40 re-analysis. Q J R Meteorol Soc 131:2961–3012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Vavrus S, Walsh JE, Chapman WL, Portis D (2006) The behavior of extreme cold air outbreaks under greenhouse warming. Int J Climatol 26:1133–1147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wood R, Keen A, Mitchell J, Gregory J (1999) Changing spatial structure of the thermohaline circulation in response to atmospheric CO2 forcing in a climate model. Nature 399:572–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Yin JH (2005) A consistent poleward shift of the storm tracks in simulations of 21st century climate. Geophys Res Lett 32:L18701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Yoshida A, Asuma Y (2004) Structures and environment of explosively developing extratropical cyclones in the northwestern Pacific region. Mon Weather Rev 132:1121–1142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zhang XD, Walsh JE (2006) Toward a seasonally ice-covered Arctic Ocean: scenarios from the IPCC AR4 model simulations. J Clim 19:1730–1747CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zhang XD, Ikeda M, Walsh JE (2003) Arctic sea ice and freshwater changes driven by the atmospheric leading mode in a coupled sea ice–ocean model. J Clim 16:2159–2177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhang XD, Walsh JE, Zhang J, Bhatt US, Ikeda M (2004) Climatology and interannual variability of arctic cyclone activity: 1948–2002. J Clim 17:2300–2317CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bjerknes Centre for Climate ResearchBergenNorway
  2. 2.British Antarctic SurveyCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations