Experts convene to discuss weather phenomenon linked to rainfall in cyclones

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International experts will come together next month to discuss the latest research on the weather phenomenon that gives rise to heavy rainfall in extratropical cyclones.

Researchers from around the world will meet for a workshop on warm conveyor belts (WCB) at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in the UK.

WCBs are ascending, poleward-moving warm, moist airstreams in the warm sector of extra-tropical cyclones. They are often associated with heavy rainfall, which can lead to flooding and other downstream impacts.

WCBs can also have wider implications for weather and climate prediction because of the way they interact with the jet stream, according to ECMWF fellow Heini Wernli.

“When a warm conveyor belt arrives at 10km altitude, it interacts with the jet stream. In some cases, this can contribute to the subsequent development of ‘blocking’ conditions, in which high pressure dominates,” said Wernli, who is also a research scientist at ETH Zurich.

Understanding effects like this would help with the predictions such as the expected frequency of droughts, he says.

Alongside his team at ETH Zurich, Wernli has studied the trajectories of air parcels in WCBs in a bid to understand the role of clouds and convection in the development of WCBs.

“In high-resolution simulations as well as observations from field campaigns, we can see that embedded convection may locally significantly accelerate the otherwise gradual ascent of air parcels in WCBs,” Wernli added. “This can also have an impact on the evolution of large-scale weather conditions downstream.”

The workshop will take place on March 10-12 in Reading, UK.

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