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Journal Articles Weather and Climate Dynamics Year : 2022

Storm track response to uniform global warming downstream of an idealized sea surface temperature front

Sebastian Schemm
  • Function : Author
Lukas Papritz
  • Function : Author


The future evolution of storm tracks, their intensity, shape, and location, is an important driver of regional precipitation changes, cyclone-associated weather extremes, and regional climate patterns. For the North Atlantic storm track, Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) data indicate a tripole pattern of change under the RCP8.5 scenario. In this study, the tripole pattern is qualitatively reproduced by simulating the change of a storm track generated downstream of an idealized sea surface temperature (SST) front under uniform warming on an aquaplanet. The simulated tripole pattern consists of reduced eddy kinetic energy (EKE) upstream and equatorward of the SST front, extended and poleward shifted enhanced EKE downstream of the SST front, and a regionally reduced EKE increase at polar latitudes. In the absence of the idealized SST front, in contrast, the storm track exhibits a poleward shift but no tripole pattern. A detailed analysis of the EKE and eddy available potential energy (EAPE) sources and sinks reveals that the changes are locally driven by changes in baroclinic conversion rather than diabatic processes. However, globally the change in baroclinic conversion averages to zero; thus the observed global EAPE increase results from diabatic generation. In particular, resolved-scale condensation plus parameterized cloud physics dominate the global EAPE increase followed by longwave radiation. Amplified stationary waves affect EKE and EAPE advection, which contributes to the local EKE and EAPE minimum at polar latitudes. Feature-based tracking provides further insight into cyclone life cycle changes downstream of the SST front. Moderately deepening cyclones deepen less in a warmer climate, while strongly deepening cyclones deepen more. Similarly, the average cyclone becomes less intense in a warmer climate, while the extremely intense cyclones become more intense. Both results hold true for cyclones with genesis in the vicinity of the SST front and elsewhere. The mean cyclone lifetime decreases, while it increases for those cyclones downstream of the SST front. The mean poleward displacement between genesis and maximum intensity increases for the most intense cyclones, while averaged over all cyclones there is a mild reduction and the result depends on the definition of the displacement. Finally, the number of cyclones decreases by approximately 15 %. Aquaplanet simulations with a localized SST front thus provide an enriched picture of storm track dynamics and associated changes with warming.
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insu-03726895 , version 1 (21-07-2022)




Sebastian Schemm, Lukas Papritz, Gwendal Rivière. Storm track response to uniform global warming downstream of an idealized sea surface temperature front. Weather and Climate Dynamics, 2022, 3, pp.601-623. ⟨10.5194/wcd-3-601-2022⟩. ⟨insu-03726895⟩
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