Changes in the characteristics of cyclone activity (frequency, depth and size) in the Arctic are analyzed based on simulations with state-of-the-art regional climate models (RCMs) from the Arctic-CORDEX initiative and global climate models (GCMs) from CMIP5 under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario. Most of RCMs show an increase of cyclone frequency in winter (DJF) and a decrease in summer (JJA) to the end of the 21st century. However, in one half of the RCMs, cyclones become weaker and substantially smaller in winter and deeper and larger in summer. RCMs as well as GCMs show an increase of cyclone frequency over the Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, north of Greenland, Canadian Archipelago, and a decrease over the Nordic Seas, Kara and Beaufort Seas and over the sub-arctic continental regions in winter. In summer, the models simulate an increase of cyclone frequency over the Central Arctic and Greenland Sea and a decrease over the Norwegian and Kara Seas by the end of the 21st century. The decrease is also found over the high-latitude continental areas, in particular, over east Siberia and Alaska. The sensitivity of the RCMs' projections to the boundary conditions and model physics is estimated. In general, different lateral boundary conditions from the GCMs have larger effects on the simulated RCM projections than the differences in RCMs' setup and/or physics.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut