Articles | Volume 13, issue 2
Research article
16 Jan 2013
Research article |  | 16 Jan 2013

Summertime cyclones over the Great Lakes Storm Track from 1860–2100: variability, trends, and association with ozone pollution

A. J. Turner, A. M. Fiore, L. W. Horowitz, and M. Bauer

Abstract. Prior work indicates that the frequency of summertime mid-latitude cyclones tracking across the Great Lakes Storm Track (GLST, bounded by: 70° W, 90° W, 40° N, and 50° N) are strongly anticorrelated with ozone (O3) pollution episodes over the Northeastern United States (US). We apply the MAP Climatology of Mid-latitude Storminess (MCMS) algorithm to 6-hourly sea level pressure fields from over 2500 yr of simulations with the GFDL CM3 global coupled chemistry-climate model. These simulations include (1) 875 yr with constant 1860 emissions and forcings (Pre-industrial Control), (2) five ensemble members for 1860–2005 emissions and forcings (Historical), and (3) future (2006–2100) scenarios following the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) and a sensitivity simulation to isolate the role of climate warming from changes in O3 precursor emissions (RCP 4.5*). The GFDL CM3 Historical simulations capture the mean and variability of summertime cyclones traversing the GLST within the range determined from four reanalysis datasets. Over the 21st century (2006–2100), the frequency of summertime mid-latitude cyclones in the GLST decreases under the RCP 8.5 scenario and in the RCP 4.5 ensemble mean. These trends are significant when assessed relative to the variability in the Pre-industrial Control simulation. In addition, the RCP 4.5* scenario enables us to determine the relationship between summertime GLST cyclones and high-O3 events (> 95th percentile) in the absence of emission changes. The summertime GLST cyclone frequency explains less than 10% of the variability in high-O3 events over the Northeastern US in the model, implying that other factors play an equally important role in determining high-O3 events.

Final-revised paper