Winter and Summer Northern Hemisphere blocking in CMIP5 models
Abstract The frequencies of atmospheric blocking in both winter and summer and the changes in them from the 20th to the 21st centuries as simulated in twelve CMIP5 models is analysed. The RCP 8.5 high emission scenario runs are used to represent the 21st century. The analysis is based on the wave-breaking methodology of Pelly and Hoskins (2003a). It differs from the Tibaldi and Molteni (1990) index in viewing equatorward cut-off lows and poleward blocking highs in equal manner as indicating a disruption to the westerlies. 1-dimensional and 2-dimensional diagnostics are applied to identify blocking of the mid-latitude storm-track and also at higher latitudes. Winter blocking frequency is found to be generally underestimated. The models give a decrease in the European blocking maximum in the 21st century, consistent with the results in other studies. There is a mean 21st century winter poleward shift of high-latitude blocking, but little agreement between the models on the details. In summer, Eurasian blocking is also underestimated in the models, whereas it is now too large over the high-latitude ocean basins. A decrease in European blocking frequency in the 21st century model runs is again found. However in summer there is a clear eastward shift of blocking over Eastern Europe and Western Russia, in a region close to the blocking that dominated the Russian summer of 2010. While summer blocking decreases in general, the poleward shift of the storm track into the region of frequent high latitude blocking may mean that the incidence of storms being obstructed by blocks may actually increase.