Objective tropical cyclone extratropical transition detection in high-resolution reanalysis and climate model data

Colin M. Zarzycki, Diana R. Thatcher, Christiane Jablonowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


This paper describes an objective technique for detecting the extratropical transition (ET) of tropical cyclones (TCs) in high-resolution gridded climate data. The algorithm is based on previous observational studies using phase spaces to define the symmetry and vertical thermal structure of cyclones. Storm tracking is automated, allowing for direct analysis of climate data. Tracker performance in the North Atlantic is assessed using 23 years of data from the variable-resolution Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) at two different resolutions (∆X ˜ 55km and 28 km), the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR,∆X ˜ 38km), and the ERA-Interim Reanalysis (ERA-I,∆X ˜ 80km). The mean spatiotemporal climatologies and seasonal cycles of objectively detected ET in the observationally constrained CFSR and ERA-I are well matched to previous observational studies, demonstrating the capability of the scheme to adequately find events. High-resolution CAM reproduces TC and ET statistics that are in general agreement with reanalyses. One notable model bias, however, is significantly longer time between ET onset and ET completion in CAM, particularly for TCs that lose symmetry prior to developing a cold-core structure and becoming extratropical cyclones, demonstrating the capability of this method to expose model biases in simulated cyclones beyond the tropical phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-148
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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