Articles | Volume 13, issue 3
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 779–793, 2013

Special issue: 13th Plinius Conference on Mediterranean Storms: disasters...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 779–793, 2013

Research article 26 Mar 2013

Research article | 26 Mar 2013

Coupled climate model simulations of Mediterranean winter cyclones and large-scale flow patterns

B. Ziv1, Y. Kushnir2, J. Nakamura2, N. H. Naik2, and T. Harpaz1 B. Ziv et al.
  • 1Department of Natural Sciences, The Open University of Israel, Israel
  • 2Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA

Abstract. The study aims to evaluate the ability of global, coupled climate models to reproduce the synoptic regime of the Mediterranean Basin. The output of simulations of the 9 models included in the IPCC CMIP3 effort is compared to the NCEP-NCAR reanalyzed data for the period 1961–1990. The study examined the spatial distribution of cyclone occurrence, the mean Mediterranean upper- and lower-level troughs, the inter-annual variation and trend in the occurrence of the Mediterranean cyclones, and the main large-scale circulation patterns, represented by rotated EOFs of 500 hPa and sea level pressure.

The models reproduce successfully the two maxima in cyclone density in the Mediterranean and their locations, the location of the average upper- and lower-level troughs, the relative inter-annual variation in cyclone occurrences and the structure of the four leading large scale EOFs. The main discrepancy is the models' underestimation of the cyclone density in the Mediterranean, especially in its western part. The models' skill in reproducing the cyclone distribution is found correlated with their spatial resolution, especially in the vertical. The current improvement in model spatial resolution suggests that their ability to reproduce the Mediterranean cyclones would be improved as well.