Impact of increasing resolution and a warmer climate on extreme weather from Northern Hemisphere extratropical cyclones




The effect of a warmer climate on the properties of extratropical cyclones is investigated using simulations of the ECHAM5 global climate model at resolutions of T213 (60 km) and T319 (40 km). Two periods representative of the end of the 20th and 21st centuries are investigated using the IPCC A1B scenario. The focus of the paper is on precipitation for the NH summer and winter seasons, however results from vorticity and winds are also presented. Similar number of events are identified at both resolutions. There are, however, a greater number of extreme precipitation events in the higher resolution run. The difference between maximum intensity distributions is shown to be statistically significant using a Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. A generalized Pareto distribution is used to analyse changes in extreme precipitation and wind events. In both resolutions, there is an increase in the number of extreme precipitation events in a warmer climate for all seasons, together with a reduction in return period. This is not associated with any increased vertical velocity, or with any increase in wind intensity in the winter and spring. However, there is an increase in wind extremes in the summer and autumn associated with tropical cyclones migrating into the extratropics.