Impact of dynamically downscaling two CMIP5 models on the historical and future changes in winter extratropical cyclones along the East Coast of North America

TitleImpact of dynamically downscaling two CMIP5 models on the historical and future changes in winter extratropical cyclones along the East Coast of North America
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsZhang Z.H, Colle B.A
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume31
Pagination8499-8525
Date Published2018/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0894-8755
Accession NumberWOS:000444535800002
Keywordsatlantic; climate; climate models; climate-change; cloud; diabatic heating; extratropical cyclones; hemisphere; Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences; midlatitude cyclones; Model comparison; precipitation; prediction; resolution; sensitivity; simulations; united-states
Abstract

This study investigates the impact of dynamical downscaling on historical and future projections of winter extratropical cyclones over eastern North America and the western Atlantic Ocean. Six-hourly output from two global circulation models (GCMs), CCSM4 and GFDL-ESM2M, from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are used to create the initial and boundary conditions for 20 historical (1986-2005) and 20 future (2080-99) winter simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Two sets of WRF grid spacing (1.0 degrees and 0.2 degrees) are examined to determine the impact of model resolution. Although the cyclone frequency in the WRF runs is largely determined by the GCM predictions, the higher-resolution WRF reduces the underprediction in cyclone intensity. There is an increase in late-twenty-first-century cyclone activity over the east coast of North America in CCSM4 and its WRF, whereas there is little change in GFDL-ESM2M and WRF given that there is a larger decrease in the temperature gradient in this region. There is a future increase in relatively deep cyclones over the East Coast in the high-resolution WRF forced by CCSM4. These storms are weaker than the historical cases early in their life cycle, but then because of latent heating they rapidly develop and become stronger than the historical events. This increase does not occur in the low-resolution WRF or the high-resolution WRF forced by GFDL since the latent heat increase is relatively small. This implies that the diabatic processes during cyclogenesis may become more important in a warmer climate, and these processes may be too weak in existing coarse-resolution GCMs.

DOI10.1175/jcli-d-18-0178.1
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