Severe Autumn storms in future Western Europe with a warmer Atlantic Ocean

Michiel Baatsen*, Reindert J. Haarsma, Aarnout J. Van Delden, Hylke De Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Simulations with a very high resolution (~25 km) global climate model indicate that more severe Autumn storms will impact Europe in a warmer future climate. The observed increase is mainly attributed to storms with a tropical origin, especially in the later part of the twentyfirst century. As their genesis region expands, tropical cyclones become more intense and their chances of reaching Europe increase. This paper investigates the properties and evolution of such storms and clarifies the future changes. The studied tropical cyclones feature a typical evolution of tropical development, extratropical transition and a re-intensification. A reduction of the transit area between regions of tropical and extratropical cyclogenesis increases the probability of re-intensification. Many of the modelled storms exhibit hybrid properties in a considerable part of their life cycle during which they exhibit the hazards of both tropical and extratropical systems. In addition to tropical cyclones, other systems such as cold core extratropical storms mainly originating over the Gulf Stream region also increasingly impact Western Europe. Despite their different history, all of the studied storms have one striking similarity: they form a warm seclusion. The structure, intensity and frequency of storms in the present climate are compared to observations using the MERRA and IBTrACS datasets. Damaging winds associated with the occurrence of a sting jet are observed in a large fraction of the cyclones during their final stage. Baroclinic instability is of great importance for the (re-)intensification of the storms. Furthermore, so-called atmospheric rivers providing tropical air prove to be vital for the intensification through diabatic heating and will increase considerably in strength in the future, as will the associated flooding risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949–964
JournalClimate Dynamics
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2014


  • Climate change
  • Extratropical transition
  • Re-intensification
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Warm seclusion


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