How much Northern Hemisphere precipitation is associated with extratropical cyclones?


  • This article was corrected on 8 SEP 2014. See the end of the full text for details.


[1] Extratropical cyclones are often associated with heavy precipitation events and can have major socio-economic impacts. This study investigates how much of the total precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere is associated with extratropical cyclones. An objective feature tracking algorithm is used to locate cyclones and the precipitation associated with these cyclones is quantified to establish their contribution to total precipitation. Climatologies are produced from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) daily dataset and the ERA-Interim reanalysis. The magnitude and spatial distribution of cyclone associated precipitation and their percentage contribution to total precipitation is closely comparable in both datasets. In some regions, the contribution of extratropical cyclones exceeds 90/85% of the total DJF/JJA precipitation climatology. The relative contribution of the most intensely precipitating storms to total precipitation is greater in DJF than JJA. The most intensely precipitating 10% of storms contribute over 20% of total storm associated precipitation in DJF, whereas they provide less than 15% of this total in JJA.