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Weather and Climate Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2019-17
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2019-17
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 10 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 10 Jan 2020

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD).

A Lagrangian analysis of upper-tropospheric anticyclones associated with heat waves in Europe

Philipp Zschenderlein1, Stephan Pfahl2, Heini Wernli3, and Andreas H. Fink1 Philipp Zschenderlein et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Wolfgang-Gaede-Str.1, 76131 Karlsruhe,Germany
  • 2Institute of Meteorology, Freie Universität Berlin, Carl-Heinrich-Becker Weg 6-10, 12165 Berlin, Germany
  • 3Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Universitässtr. 16, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. This study presents a Lagrangian analysis of upper-tropospheric anticyclones that are connected to surface heat waves in different European regions for the period 1979 to 2016. In order to elucidate the formation of these anticyclones and the role of diabatic processes, we trace air parcels backwards from the upper-tropospheric anticyclones and quantify the diabatic heating in these air parcels. Around 25–45 % of the air parcels are diabatically heated during the last three days prior to their arrival in the upper-tropospheric anticyclones and this amount increases to 35–50 % for the last seven days. The influence of diabatic heating is larger for heat wave-related anticyclones in northern Europe and western Russia and smaller in southern Europe. Interestingly, the diabatic heating occurs in two geographically separated air streams. Three days prior to arrival, one heating branch (western branch) is located above the western North Atlantic and the other heating branch (eastern branch) is located to the southwest of the target upper-tropospheric anticyclone. The diabatic heating in the western branch is related to warm conveyor belts in North Atlantic cyclones upstream of the evolving upper-level ridge. In contrast, the eastern branch is diabatically heated by convection, as indicated by elevated mixed-layer convective available potential energy along the western side of the matured upper-level ridge. Most European regions are influenced by both branches, whereas western Russia is predominantly affected by the eastern branch. The western branch predominantly affects the formation of the upper-tropospheric anticyclone, and therefore of the heat wave, whereas the eastern branch is more active during its maintenance. For long-lasting heat waves, the western branch regenerates. The results from this study show that the dynamical processes leading to heat waves may be sensitive to small-scale microphysical and convective processes, whose accurate representation in models is thus supposed to be crucial for heat wave predictions on weather and climate time scales.

Philipp Zschenderlein et al.
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Philipp Zschenderlein et al.
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Short summary
We analyse the formation of upper-tropospheric anticyclones connected to European surface heat waves. Tracing air masses backwards from these anticyclones, we found out that trajectories are diabatically heated either by North Atlantic cyclones or by convection closer to the heat wave anticyclone. The first branch primarily affects the onset of the anticyclone, while the second branch is more relevant for the maintenance. Our results are relevant for heat wave predictions in numerical models.
We analyse the formation of upper-tropospheric anticyclones connected to European surface heat...
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