The character of the winter in Europe is determined largely by whether the N.Atlantic Storm-Track and the associated westerly winds extend into it. Fluctuations in the storm-track on all time-scales are part of the natural variability of the climate. Any changes in the mean or fluctuations of the storm-track would arguably be the most important manifestation of climate change in the European region. The increasing number of deep cyclones and storm-related floods in recent years (e.g. Deutscher Weterdienst, 1995) has been a subject of public interest, and insurance companies have received rising claims for storm damages. In constrast, January 1996 and December 1996-January 1997 were examples of major blocking events over Europe and retracted N.Atlantic storm-tracks, the latter in particular leading to extreme cold in Europe.

The objectives of this proposal are to improve our understanding of the nature of the N.Atlantic Storm-Track, the causes of its variability including interaction with the underlying ocean, and the influence on European climate of this variability. Such advances are crucial to improving the GCMs used to predict anthropogenic change, in the interpretation of these GCMs and in maximising the predictive power for European weather and climate on time-scales from weeks to seasons. The objectives will be met using sophisticated diagnosis of Hadley Centre model runs, of the ECMWF observational reanalyses and of controlled experiments with an hierarchy of models from GCMs to idealised process models. The atmospheric models will be run with fixed SSTs and simplified upper ocean models.

The objectives of this proposal fall within areas 1.1.1 and 1.1.3 of the Environment and Climate Work programme. They are complementary with existing EU Projects and with the US Atlantic Climate Change Programme. The study will provide a major input to CLIVAR-GOALS and provide a more atmosphere-doun focus contribution to complement the more oceanic focus of the other N.Atlantic projects in EUROCLIVAR.

This project was accepted for funding by the European Economic Community in June 1997 and will start in 1998. If you have any ideas concerning this project, please contact us.

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