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Publication Date
11 December 2023

Extreme windstorms in the Northeastern USA in the contemporary and future climate



Cold-season windstorms represent an important, and potentially changing, geophysical hazard in the Northeastern United States. Here we employ an integrated research methodology including both a storyline approach, where three intense windstorms from the current climate are subjected to pseudo-global warming (PGW) experiments, and a long-term transient simulation using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. An ensemble of WRF simulations is built for each windstorm using different planetary boundary layer and microphysical parameterizations. The fidelity assessment suggests all ensemble members capture the windstorm evolution in contemporary climate. The configuration with highest fidelity is used in the PGW experiments performed with perturbed temperature fields, constant relative humidity, and deiced Great Lakes. These perturbation simulations indicate some evidence for a reduction of sea level pressure and increases in wind speed over and downwind of the Great Lakes and over the Atlantic Ocean plus an increase in precipitation accumulation but a reduction in snow coverage. These changes are spatially inhomogeneous in terms of magnitude and sign but are consistent with changes in potential vorticity. Alberta Clippers and Colorado Lows dominate the cyclones responsible for historical windstorms and thus are sampled in the PGW simulations. However, the transient simulation suggests an increasing role for tropical cyclones that undergo transition to extratropical cyclones. This reinforces the value of combining information from both PGW perturbation experiments within a storyline context and transient simulations when seeking to quantify the future risk associated with cold-season windstorms under changing climate. 

Zhou, Xin, Rebecca J. Barthelmie, Fred Letson, Jacob J. Coburn, and Sara C. Pryor. 2023. “Extreme Windstorms In The Northeastern Usa In The Contemporary And Future Climate”. Climate Dynamics. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1007/s00382-023-07012-1.
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)