Extra-tropical Cyclones and Storm Tracks on a Warming Earth

feb 29
Wanneer 29 februari 2024, aanvang 15:30
Waar Buys Ballotzaal, KNMI, De Bilt

Speaker: Walt Robinson, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University

Just over a century since Jacob Bjerknes and Halvor Solberg published their beautiful synthesis of the structure and evolution of extra-tropical cyclones, we understand that these systems are the engines of day to day weather and of climate variability in middle and high latitudes. While extra-tropical cyclones primarily derive their energy, through the process of baroclinic instability, from the equator-pole temperature contrast, they also derive substantial energy from the release of latent heat. This occurs on the atmospheric meso-scale, which confounds complacency that extra-tropical cyclones are faithfully represented within CMIP-class climate models. It  has implications, to be discussed, for how storm tracks and storms will change with global warming, including their role in generating variability on longer time scales which, in turn, affects climate extremes. Results from several modeling studies will be presented, as well as some new analyses of summertime storm tracks in reanalysis. 


Walt Robinson is professor of atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, where he co-directs the master’s degree program in Climate Change and Society. Following early training in physics and a year operating the cosmic radiation observatory at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Robinson pursued his PhD at Columbia University. His dissertation work, carried out at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), addressed wave-wave and wave-mean flow interactions of stratospheric planetary waves. Subsequently he did a post-doc at the University of Washington and was a faculty member at the University of Illinois, where his research turned to intra-seasonal variability in the lower atmosphere. After a term as a program director at the US National Science Foundation, Robinson came to NC State. His research there focuses on the atmospheric dynamics of extratropical storm tracks, persistent anomalies, and summer extremes, in the context of climate change. Robinson is former chief editor of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences and currently is chief editor of the Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences (3rd edition). He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

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    Spreker: A.P.M. (Fons) Baede

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