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Northern Hemisphere midlatitude cyclone variability in GCM simulations with different ocean representations

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The impact of different ocean models or sea surface temperature (SST) and sea-ice concentrations on cyclone tracks in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes is determined within a hierarchy of model simulations. A reference simulation with the coupled atmosphere ocean circulation model ECHAM/HOPE is compared with simulations using ECHAM and three simplified ocean and sea-ice representations: (1) a variable depth mixed layer (ML) ocean, (2) forcing by varying SST and sea-ice, and (3) with climatological SST and sea-ice; the latter two are from the coupled ECHAM/HOPE integration. The reference simulation reproduces the observed cyclone tracks. The cyclones are tracked automatically by a standard routine and the variability of individual cyclone trajectories within the storm tracks is determined by a cluster approach. In the forced simulation with varying SST, the geographical distribution and the statistics of the cyclones are not altered compared to the coupled reference simulation. In the ML- and the climatological simulation, deviations of the mean cyclone distribution are found which occur mainly in the North Pacific, and can partially be traced back to missing El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability. The climatological experiment is superior to the ML-experiment. The variability of the individual cyclone trajectories, as determined by the cluster analysis, reveals the same types and frequencies of propagation directions for all four representations of the lower boundary. The largest discrepancies for the cluster occupations are found for the climatological and the ML-simulation.

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We thank U. Luksch for interesting discussions, U. Cubasch and S. Legutke for providing the data of the coupled GCM simulation and D. Dommenget for setting up the mixed-layer experiment. This work is supported by the National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) Climate funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Sonderforschungsbereich 512: “Tiefdruckgebiete und Klimasystem des Nordatlantiks”).

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Correspondence to C. C. Raible.

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Raible, C.C., Blender, R. Northern Hemisphere midlatitude cyclone variability in GCM simulations with different ocean representations. Climate Dynamics 22, 239–248 (2004).

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