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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-165
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 18 Jun 2018

Research article | 18 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

The role of European windstorm clustering for extreme seasonal losses as determined from a high resolution climate model

Matthew D. K. Priestley1, Helen F. Dacre1, Len C. Shaffrey2, Kevin I. Hodges1,2, and Joaquim G. Pinto3 Matthew D. K. Priestley et al.
  • 1Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 2NCAS, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 3Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract. Extratropical cyclones are the most damaging natural hazard to affect western Europe. Serial clustering occurs when many intense cyclones affect one area in a period of time which can potentially lead to very large seasonal losses. Previous studies have shown that intense cyclones may be more likely to cluster than less intense cyclones. We revisit this topic using a high resolution climate model with the aim to determine how important clustering is for windstorm related losses.

The role of windstorm clustering is investigated using a quantifiable loss-based metric (storm severity index (SSI)) based on near-surface meteorological variables (10-metre wind speed) that is used to convert a wind footprint into losses for individual windstorms or seasons. 918 years of high resolution coupled climate model data from the High-Resolution Global Environment Model (HiGEM) are compared to ERA-Interim re-analysis. HiGEM is able to successfully reproduce the wintertime North Atlantic/European circulation, and represent the large-scale circulation associated with the serial clustering of European windstorms. We use two measures to identify any changes in the contribution of clustering to the overall seasonal losses for increasing return periods.

Above a return period of 3 years, the accumulated seasonal loss from HiGEM is up to 20% larger than the accumulated seasonal loss from a set of random realisations of the HiGEM data. Seasonsal losses are increased by 10–20% relative to randomised seasonal losses at a return period of 200 years. The contribution of the single largest event in a season to the accumulated seasonal loss does not change with return period, generally ranging between ~0.25–0.5.

Given the realistic dynamical representation of cyclone clustering in HiGEM, and comparable statistics to ERA-Interim, we conclude that our estimation of clustering and its dependence on the return period will be useful for informing the development of risk models for European windstorms, particularly for longer return periods.

Matthew D. K. Priestley et al.
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Matthew D. K. Priestley et al.
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Short summary
This study investigates the role of the clustering of extratropical cyclones in driving wintertime wind losses across a large European region. To do this over 900 years of climate model data has been used and analysed. The main conclusion of this work is that cyclone clustering acts to increase wintertime wind losses by 10–20 % when compared to the losses from a random series of cyclones, with this specifically being for the higher loss years.
This study investigates the role of the clustering of extratropical cyclones in driving...
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