Storm track processes and the opposing influences of climate change

T. A. Shaw*, M. Baldwin, E. A. Barnes, R. Caballero, C. I. Garfinkel, Y. T. Hwang, C. Li, P. A. O'Gorman, G. Rivière, I. R. Simpson, A. Voigt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

334 Scopus citations

Abstract

Extratropical cyclones are storm systems that are observed to travel preferentially within confined regions known as storm tracks. They contribute to precipitation, wind and temperature extremes in mid-latitudes. Cyclones tend to form where surface temperature gradients are large, and the jet stream influences their speed and direction of travel. Storm tracks shape the global climate through transport of energy and momentum. The intensity and location of storm tracks varies seasonally, and in response to other natural variations, such as changes in tropical sea surface temperature. A hierarchy of numerical models of the atmosphere-ocean system-from highly idealized to comprehensive-has been used to study and predict responses of storm tracks to anthropogenic climate change. The future position and intensity of storm tracks depend on processes that alter temperature gradients. However, different processes can have opposing influences on temperature gradients, which leads to a tug of war on storm track responses and makes future projections more difficult. For example, as climate warms, surface shortwave cloud radiative changes increase the Equator-To-pole temperature gradient, but at the same time, longwave cloud radiative changes reduce this gradient. Future progress depends on understanding and accurately quantifying the relative influence of such processes on the storm tracks.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)656-664
Number of pages9
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume9
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

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© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.

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