New publication: Extratropical cyclones in a warmer, moister climate: A recent Atlantic analogue

Muxingzi Li, Tim Woollings, Kevin Hodges and Giacomo Masato (2014) Extratropical cyclones in a warmer, moister climate: A recent Atlantic analogue Geophysical Research Letters DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062186

Abstract

Current climate model projections do not exhibit a large change in the intensity of extratropical cyclones. However, there are concerns that current models represent moist processes poorly and this provides motivation for investigating observational evidence for how cyclones behave in warmer climates. In the North Atlantic in particular, recent decades provide a clear contrast between warm and cold climates due to Atlantic Multidecadal Variability. In this paper we investigate these periods as analogues which may provide a guide to future cyclone behaviour. While temperature and moisture rise in recent warm periods as in the projections, differences in energetics and temperature gradients imply that these periods are only partial analogues. The main result from current reanalyses is that while increased cyclone-associated precipitation is seen in the recent warm periods, there is no robust evidence of an increase in cyclone intensity by other measures, such as maximum wind speed or vorticity. A set of low- and high-resolution model simulations are also studied, suggesting that changes in cyclone intensity may be different in higher resolution reanalyses.