September 25th, 2013

Changing Hazard Landscape: Extratropical Cyclones

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

Extratropical cyclones pose a hazard primarily due to wind and flooding. They can also bring storm surge impacts in coastal regions. Portions of Europe are particularly prone to extratropical cyclone occurrence and these higher counts will naturally include some stronger events by nature of their underlying intensity distributions.

Under global warming, the number of extratropical cyclones is expected to decrease. However the intensity of these cyclones is expected to increase.

There is evidence that the Northern Hemisphere mean storm tracks have already moved towards the poles (Ulbrich et al., 2009; IPCC AR4, 2007).

On a regional basis, despite a net disposition of the storm tracks towards the poles, recent scientific evidence demonstrates an association of the reduced ice cap with negative phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). In deep winter this would bend the Europe portion of the storm track southwards to reside over France and Spain, increasing extratropical cyclone transits over the area and increasing the number of excessive cold outbreaks over Northern Europe and the United Kingdom (Jaiser et al., 2012).

Adaptation strategies again include development and improvement of codes and standards for structural resilience under wind loads and control of urban flooding. Coastal flood mitigation strategies include development and adherence to codes and standards and land use strategies discussed previously. Such strategies should prove valuable over the long term.

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