Projected changes in medicanes in the HadGEM3 N512 high-resolution global climate model
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Medicanes or “Mediterranean hurricanes” represent a rare and physically unique type of Mediterranean mesoscale cyclone. There are similarities with tropical cyclones with regard to their development (based on the thermodynamical disequilibrium between the warm sea and the overlying troposphere) and their kinematic and thermodynamical properties (medicanes are intense vortices with a warm core and even a cloud-free eye). Although medicanes are smaller and their wind speeds are lower than in tropical cyclones, the severity of their winds can cause substantial damage to islands and coastal areas. Concern about how human-induced climate change will affect extreme events is increasing. This includes the future impacts on medicanes due to the warming of the Mediterranean waters and the projected changes in regional atmospheric circulation. However, most global climate models do not have high enough spatial resolution to adequately represent small features such as medicanes. In this study, a cyclone tracking algorithm is applied to high resolution global climate model data with a horizontal grid resolution of approximately 25 km over the Mediterranean region. After a validation of the climatology of general Mediterranean mesoscale cyclones, changes in medicanes are determined using climate model experiments with present and future forcing. The magnitude of the changes in the winds, frequency and location of medicanes is assessed. While no significant changes in the total number of Mediterranean mesoscale cyclones are found, medicanes tend to decrease in number but increase in intensity. The model simulation suggests that medicanes tend to form more frequently in the Gulf of Lion–Genoa and South of Sicily.
KeywordsMediterranean Medicanes Climate change Cyclone climatology HadGEM3
This research was supported by the PREDIMED (CGL2011-24458) and EXTREMO (CGL2014-52199-R) projects, funded by the Spanish “Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación”. The leading author visited the University of Reading under Grant EEBB-I-13-07076 from “Ministerio de Educación”. The work was also partially funded by the Government of the Balearic Islands through the project 7/2011 of the Conselleria d’Educació, Cultura i Universitats. The study is based on the UPSCALE data set licensed from the University of Reading which includes material from NERC and the Controller of HMSO & Queen’s Printer. The UPSCALE data set was created by P. L. Vidale, M. Roberts, M. Mizielinski, J. Strachan, M.E. Demory and R. Schiemann using the HadGEM3 model with support from NERC and the Met Office and the PRACE Research Infrastructure resource HERMIT based in Germany at HLSR.
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