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A long-term climatology of medicanes

Abstract

Medicanes, intense and destructive mesoscale cyclones exhibiting several similarities with tropical hurricanes, are known to struck occasionally the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to a high-resolution dynamical downscaling effort, we are able to study for the first time the long-term climatology of those rare storms in a systematic way. The distribution of medicanes frequency in space and time is discussed, and the environmental factors responsible for their formation are investigated. We find that medicanes develop in those areas of the Mediterranean region where intrusions of cold air in the upper troposphere can produce configurations of thermodynamical disequilibrium of the atmosphere similar to those associated with the formation of tropical cyclones.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Three variables are used to optimize the discrimination between tropical and extra-tropical cyclones. The parameter B represents the thermal symmetry of the cyclone: a threshold value of B = 10 m has been empirically determined by analyzing a large sample of both tropical and extra-tropical cyclones. Even if the threshold value of B has been originally determined for larger tropical/extratropical cyclones, previous studies (Miglietta et al. 2011) have shown that such value is also useful in the case of medicanes. The thermal wind parameters are defined in such a way that positive and negative values of −V T indicate respectively a warm-core or cold-core in the relevant layer; L stands for lower layer (900–600 hPa) and U for upper layer (600–300 hPa).

  2. 2.

    The medicane top is estimated, from model simulations in Cavicchia and von Storch (2012), to be approximately 350 hPa.

  3. 3.

    The integration is performed by summing the field over the model levels.

  4. 4.

    The probabilities are computed from the daily mean values over all the simulation period as the percentage of days in which the condition is realized.

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Acknowledgments

We acknowledge Burkardt Rockel and Beate Geyer for their precious help with the model. We thank Antonio Navarra for many valuable and stimulating discussions. The research leading to these results has received funding from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research and the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea under the GEMINA Project, and from the South East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme under the ORIENTGATE Project.

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Correspondence to Leone Cavicchia.

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Cavicchia, L., von Storch, H. & Gualdi, S. A long-term climatology of medicanes. Clim Dyn 43, 1183–1195 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-013-1893-7

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Keywords

  • Mediterranean hurricanes
  • Dynamical downscaling
  • Mesoscale tropical-like cyclones
  • Medicanes climatology