TEMPEST: Testing and Evaluating Model Predictions of European Storms

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology


Intense extratropical cyclones are one of the major weather risks in the mid-latitudes. High winds and extreme precipitation from extratropical cyclones can result in windstorm damage, flooding and coastal storm surge. Understanding the impacts of climate change on extratropical cyclones is critical to assessing future weather risk. TEMPEST is a 3-year proposed programme of research addressing the climate science deliverable of the NERC Storm Risk Mitigation directed programme. The climate deliverable is to provide an improved understanding of how climate change and natural variability will affect the generation and evolution of extra-tropical cyclones. TEMPEST will achieve this improved understanding by addressing the scientific questions raised in the Storm Risk Mitigation climate deliverable. TEMPEST aims to address these questions by, Providing the first systematic assessment of how intense extratropical cyclones are predicted to change in the Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) climate models Performing an integrated set of sensitivity experiments with the Met Office Unified Model to quantify the key processes that determine the spread of climate model predictions Investigating the response of intense extratropical cyclones to climate change in very high-resolution global atmospheric model experiments capable of capturing mesoscale structures. The focus in TEMPEST is on intense extratropical cyclones that affect Europe. This is partly due to the socioeconomic impacts of such storms, but is also partly driven by the scientific need to address the particularly large spread in climate model predictions for extratropical cyclone activity over the North Atlantic and Europe. It is envisaged that the outcomes from TEMPEST will feed directly into the forthcoming IPCC assessment report (AR5). TEMPEST will also have strong synergies with other LWEC (Living With Environmental Change) programmes, most notably the JWCRP (Joint Met Office/NERC Weather and Climate Research Programme) and the CWC (Changing Water Cycle) research programme. The questions posed by the Storm Risk Mitigation climate deliverable cut across the traditional boundaries of weather and climate modelling communities. To tackle these questions, we aim to bring together scientists from the climate, weather and statistical communities at the Universities of Exeter, Oxford and Reading, the Met Office and ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts). By engaging the wider community within TEMPEST, we will enable the development of links with the Impacts and Numerical Weather Prediction projects in the Storm Risk Mitigation programme.


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Economou T (2015) Serial clustering of extratropical cyclones in a multi-model ensemble of historical and future simulations in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

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Roberts J (2014) The XWS open access catalogue of extreme European windstorms from 1979 to 2012 in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences

Description The ability of the CMIP5 (Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) climate models to represent North Atlantic and European extratropical cyclones and their future projections has been assessed (Zappa et al. 2013a,b). The results of the CMIP5 models will be used to inform the next IPCC assessment report on climate changes (AR5).
A new statistical framework for assessing multi-model ensembles of climate projections based on a two-way ANOVA model has been developed (Sansom et al. 2013).

The improvement in the representation of extratropical weather regimes with increasing horizontal resolution has been assessed in the Athena high-resolution atmospheric simulations (Dawson et al. 2012).

The projected climate changes in extratropical storm activity in the CMIP3 and CMIP5 climate models have found to be large when assessed against present-day variability in storm activity (Harvey et al. 2012).

The substantial contribution of precipitation associated with extratropical cyclones to the climatological precipitation has been quantified for the first time (Hawcroft et al. 2013).

The ability of a climate model to represent extreme precipitation in storms has also been assessed (Pearson et al. 2014).

A open access catalogue of historical extreme European windstorms has also been created Roberts et al. (2014)
Exploitation Route The most obvious use of TEMPEST outcomes is within policy-making and the insurance sector. TEMPEST has produced a new assessment of how extratropical cyclones are projected to change in the future, which could be used inform government e.g. future policy on flooding. Four TEMPEST papers are cited in the IPCC AR5 report.

Talks on projected change in extratropical cyclones at Insurance-related events (e.g. given talks at the 1st Research Symposium on European Windstorms, Willis and Lighthill Risk Network Events on Windstorms).

The data from the XWS extreme windstorm catalogue are being used by five insurance companies.
Sectors Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://tempest.nerc.ac.uk/
Description Results from TEMPEST have been cited in the IPCC AR5 report. They were also being currently used to inform the next UK government Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA2). The results from TEMPEST have been used to inform insurance companies strategy with respect to climate change (e.g. AON Benefield, Lloyd's). The data from the XWS extreme windstorm catalogue are currently being used by five insurance companies.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

Title XWS Exetreme Windstorm Catalgue 
Description The XWS 'eXtreme Wind Storms' catalogue is a freely available database of storm tracks and model-generated maximum 3 second gust storm footprints (both raw and re-calibrated) at ~25km resolution for 50 of the most extreme windstorms to hit Europe in recent times. The catalogue currently covers the period October 1979 - March 2013. An estimate of the uncertainty of the gusts for each re-calibrated storm footprint is also provided. The catalogue is intended to be a resource for both academia and the (re)insurance industry. Characterising the intensity, location and frequency of windstorms in the past is crucial to understanding the factors that influence these events (such as position of the jet stream or NAO index), and for evaluating and improving the predictions of weather and climate models. To our knowledge this is the first freely available, digitised catalogue of European windstorm tracks and footprints. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The XWS catalogue is currently being used by 4 major reinsurance companies to provide an view of windstorm risk. 
URL http://www.europeanwindstorms.org
Description TEMPEST Talks at insurance and energy sector events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact August 2014 Vattenfall Weather and Climate Data Users workshop, Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 2013 Risk Prediction Initiative Workshop on European Windstorm Risk, Zurich
Feb 2012 Global Flood and Windstorm Risk Models, Willis Research Network, London
July 2011 Decadal Forecasting and European windstorm risk, Lighthill Risk Network, Lloyds, London

Increased visibility of TEMPEST. Use of TEMPEST data and citations of TEMPEST publications in the insurance industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
Description TEMPEST media interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact • Interviewed for Sky News and ITV Meridian on extratropical cyclones and climate change in the wake of the St Judes Windstorm (Oct 2013)
• Interviewed for Channel 4 documentary on 2014 winter storms (Mar 2014)

Increased visibility for the TEMPEST project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013