Plot of the month (May 2017): Extratropical cyclones 'storymap'

Plot of the month for May 2017 is provided by the PRIMAVERA project as part of its user engagement activities, which explains the need for high-resolution modelling to understand extratropical cyclones which affect Europe.


Europe is regularly struck by harmful wind storms which cause loss of life and significant reinsurance losses. For example, between the evening of 17 January and the early hours of 19 January 2007, storm Kyrill (see figure) swept across Europe, bringing hurricane-force winds to many parts of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, leading to widespread destruction extending from the British Isles to Russia and the loss of 46 lives. It caused significant disruption to road, railway, aircraft, and ship transportation services across Europe. In Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Poland a total of two million homes were left without electricity (Fink et al., 2009).


Figure | Interactive, animated 'storymap' of European extratropical cyclones


To analyse the impacts and future evolution of such storms, global climate models are required. However, currently available climate models lack the resolution to properly capture these storms with spatial detail. The state-of-the-art multi-model, high-resolution PRIMAVERA project will provide new capabilities for assessing European storm risk over the next three decades, and support the development of next-generation climate models and projections.

Many such significant storms are documented in the XWS catalogue and these have been compiled in an animated, interactive 'storymap', which explains the role high-resolution modelling.

The 'storymap' may be found here.