Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Weather Forecasting: Mathematical Model Illuminates Polar Lows

Date:
December 19, 2008
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
Scientists have developed a mathematical method that enables a reconstruction of the occurrence of small-scale polar storms -- so-called polar lows -- in the North Atlantic.

Scientists from the GKSS Research Centre in Geesthacht have developed a mathematical method that enables a reconstruction of the occurrence of small-scale polar storms - so-called polar lows - in the North Atlantic. This has made it possible to determine, for the first time, the frequency of such polar lows in the past.

Related Articles


Subsequent statistical analysis of data generated for the last 60 years revealed no direct correlation between global warming and the incidence of polar lows.

Treacherous winds

Polar lows are small-scale storms that occur in the oceans of the high latitudes and are comparable to a tropical cyclone. The strong winds they produce are rightly feared by seamen. In the course of the last century, North Atlantic polar lows caused 56 shipwrecks with a total of 342 people lost at sea.

Although polar lows do not always produce winds of hurricane force, they are particularly treacherous to shipping because they can develop very suddenly and, on account of their small diameter of only a few hundred kilometres, are very difficult to predict.

Similarly, the lack of meteorological stations in the polar regions further compounds the difficulties of forecasting and documenting these weather systems.

Detecting unrecorded polar lows

In order to determine whether the frequency of polar lows has increased in the North Atlantic in recent decades as a result of climate change, the environmental scientist Matthias Zahn and the climate researcher Hans von Storch from the GKSS Research Centre in Geesthacht examined global atmospheric data for the period from 1948 to 2006 in cooperation with the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg.

These data are available for areas of around 200 by 200 kilometres. “When you’re dealing with an essentially regional phenomenon such as a polar low, which often measures only a couple of hundred kilometres across, the resolution of global atmospheric data is too low to generate a precise analysis,” explains Matthias Zahn, who is currently working on his doctorate at the University of Hamburg.

However, with the use of the so called “dynamical downscaling”, Zahn has been able to give these global atmospheric data the resolution required for their application to an area of around 50 by 50 kilometres. At the same time, he has developed a mathematical method that makes it possible to detect polar lows in this higher-resolution data.

“Using this method, we were able to determine the frequency of polar lows during periods in the past, when satellite data was not as comprehensive as it is now. In the process, we discovered polar lows that don’t appear in previous meteorological records,” says Zahn.

The subsequent statistical analysis showed that there is no long-term trend in the frequency of polar lows over the last 60 years and that at present there is no direct correlation to global warming.

The mathematical method developed by Zahn will continue to be used to generate statistical information on variable high wind speeds within polar lows and on this basis to develop scenarios elucidating the occurrence of such storms.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zahn et al. A long-term climatology of North Atlantic polar lows. Geophysical Research Letters, 2008; 35 (22): L22702 DOI: 10.1029/2008GL035769

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Weather Forecasting: Mathematical Model Illuminates Polar Lows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081212092054.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2008, December 19). Weather Forecasting: Mathematical Model Illuminates Polar Lows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081212092054.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Weather Forecasting: Mathematical Model Illuminates Polar Lows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081212092054.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) An explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn Wednesday in war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing at least one miner, officials said. Graphic video of injured miners being treated in a Donetsk hospital. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chile's Villaricca Volcano Calm, Red Alert Remains

Chile's Villaricca Volcano Calm, Red Alert Remains

AFP (Mar. 4, 2015) A red alert continues in the area around southern Chile&apos;s Villarrica volcano, though activity dropped since its eruption overnight on Monday. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins