High Impact Weather in the Arctic

Our new colleague Thomas Spengler obtained funding for a new project at NFR: High Impact Weather in the Arctic: Fundamental understanding and future projections (HIMWARC)

Polar Low

Photo: 
NOAA

HIMWARC will extend our fundamental knowledge and concomitantly restrain present levels of uncertainty with respect to future changes of high impact weather in the Arctic. The weather in the Arctic features several severe types of extremes such as polar lows and strong low-level winds in the vicinity of topography. These extremes rigorously influence the socio-economic structure of the affected regions and communities by extensive material damages and loss of lives.

Our current understanding of the formation and intensification of these weather phenomena is still at an infant level, which limits our forecasting capabilities and hence restrains our abilities of mitigation measures. Furthermore, a detailed and comprehensive assessment of changes with respect to high impact weather in the Arctic in a future climate will also be limited to our understanding of the underlying processes giving rise to these phenomena.

HIMWARC’s approach is twofold:

  • Extending our fundamental understanding of high impact weather in the Arctic
  • Incorporating novel findings into improved diagnostics to assess future changes in spatial distribution, frequency and intensity of Arctic severe events

The pursuit of these goals is aided by the affiliation of HIMWARC with THORPEX, a WWRP initiative by the WMO, and its recently established Polar Project. HIMWARC builds on previous efforts by IPY-THORPEX via use of its field campaign data and sustaining established scientific network between research institutions and forecasting agencies.

Outcomes of HIMWARC will be:

  1. revised and unified theory on polar low genesis by incorporating a novel concept to the formation process
  2. better understanding of the interactions between atmospheric flow with steep topography in the light of extreme wind events and cyclogenesis
  3. assessment of future changes of high impact weather in the Arctic

HIMWARC is a three year project (2011 - 2014) with a grant of 7 million NOK from NFR.

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