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Publication Date
2 October 2023

Arctic cyclones have become more intense and longer-lived over the past seven decades



Intense cyclones driving extreme Arctic weather and climate events have been more frequently observed during recent years, causing dramatic environmental and socioeconomic impacts. However, inconsistencies have emerged about long-term changes in Arctic cyclone activity. Here we analyze multiple reanalysis datasets covering a multidecadal period with improvements to the cyclone tracking algorithm and the integrated cyclone activity metric. The results indicate an intensification of Arctic cyclone activity over the last seven decades. There has been a long-term shift of the maximum cyclone counts from weaker to stronger cyclones and a pronounced lengthening of the duration of strong cyclones. Spatial analysis shows increased strong cyclone frequency over the Arctic, driven by enhanced lower troposphere baroclinicity, amplified winter jet stream waves over the subpolar North Atlantic, and a strengthened summer tropospheric vortex over the central Arctic. The stratospheric vortex has also intensified the tropospheric waves and vortex with distinct dynamics between winter and summer. Recently enhanced baroclinicity over large areas of the Arctic and midlatitudes suggests more complicated atmospheric dynamics than what is hypothesized with Arctic-amplification-induced decrease in meridional temperature gradients.

Zhang, Xiangdong, Han Tang, Jing Zhang, John E. Walsh, Erika L. Roesler, Benjamin Hillman, Thomas J. Ballinger, and Wilbert Weijer. 2023. “Arctic Cyclones Have Become More Intense And Longer-Lived Over The Past Seven Decades”. Communications Earth &Amp; Environment 4 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s43247-023-01003-0.
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)