• warm conveyor belt;
  • latent heat release;
  • potential vorticity;
  • cyclone tracking

[1] We introduce a novel technique in which linear regression analysis is applied to clusters of tracked cyclones to statistically assess the factors controlling cyclone development. We illustrate this technique by evaluating the differences between cyclones forming in the west and east North Atlantic (herein termed west and east Atlantic cyclones). Enhanced cyclone intensity 2 days after genesis is found to be associated with deeper upper-level troughs upstream of the cyclone center at the genesis time in both west and east Atlantic cyclones. However, whilst west Atlantic cyclones are also enhanced by the presence of strong fronts, east Atlantic cyclones are not. Instead, east Atlantic cyclones exhibit an enhancement when diabatically generated midlevel potential vorticity is present (with the enhancement being of approximately equal magnitude to that associated with the potential vorticity in the upper-level trough). This is consistent with the paradigm of latent heat release in the warm conveyor belt region playing an important role in the development of east Atlantic cyclones.