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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Northern Hemisphere Extratropical Cyclone Activity in the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Version 3 (20CRv3) and Its Relationship with Continental Extreme Temperatures


In this study, we detect and track extratropical cyclones using 6-hourly mean sea level pressure data taken from the Twentieth Century Reanalysis version 3 (20CRv3) over the period 1951–2015 and compare them with those in the Interim and fifth generation of ECMWF reanalyses over the period 1979–2018. Three indices were employed to characterize cyclone activity, including cyclone count, cyclone intensity, and a cyclone activity index (CAI) that combines the count and intensity. The results show that the cyclone indices in the three datasets have comparable annual climatologies and seasonal evolution over the northern extratropical land and ocean in recent decades. Based on the cyclone indices over the period 1951–2010 in 80 ensemble members of 20CRv3, cyclone count and intensity are negatively correlated in winter and tend to be positively and weakly correlated in summer. The interannual CAI variability is dominated by the cyclone count variability. Regional mean cyclone activity can be well represented using the ensemble average cyclone index. We then examined the linkage of the cyclone activity in 20CRv3 and observed cold and warm extremes over Eurasia and North America over the period 1951–2010. In winter, the principal components of interannual cold and warm extreme anomalies are more correlated with the regional mean cyclone count index over Eurasia, while they are more correlated with the cyclone intensity index over North America. The temperature anomalies associated with the regional and ensemble mean cyclone count index explain about 10% (20%) of interannual cold (warm) extreme variances averaged over Eurasia. The temperature anomalies associated with the mean cyclone intensity explain about 10% of interannual cold and warm extreme variances over North America. Large-scale atmospheric circulation anomalies in association with cyclone activity and the induced temperature advection drive temperature anomalies over Eurasia and North America. In summer, circulation and thermal advection anomalies associated with cyclone activity are weak over the two continents. Hence, that season’s relationship between cyclone activity and extreme temperature variability is weak.

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