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Open Access Extreme winds at northern mid-latitudes since 1871

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Studying a sufficiently large sample of extremes or analysing the statistics of their occurrence, including trends, is hampered by the length of the existing observation-based record. New data sets such as the Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR), which consists of an ensemble of 56 members, significantly extend our record back in time. In this paper, we present examples of extremes of winds at northern hemisphere mid-latitudes in 20CR to illustrate challenges and opportunities for analysing extremes over a longer period than previously possible. For four representative storms from Europe and North America, 20CR provides a relatively good depiction of the synoptic-scale meteorological development, although it misses smaller scale features as well as local effects due to orography. For analysing trends of extreme winds, it is shown that the individual ensemble members should be used, rather than the ensemble mean, which appears to be biased towards lower wind speeds early in the record. For the studied locations, decadal variability and trends can best be characterised after around 1950, when the ensemble variance remains consistent. Different methodological approaches for studying changes in extreme winds are discussed. Finally, we show hemispheric maps of trends in extreme wind speeds since 1950.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2012

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  • Meteorologische Zeitschrift (originally founded in 1866) is the joint periodical of the meteorological societies of Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It accepts high-quality peer-reviewed manuscripts on all aspects of observational, theoretical and computational research out of the entire field of meteorology, including climatology. Meteorologische Zeitschrift represents a natural forum for the meteorological community of Central Europe and worldwide.
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