A new circulation type classification based upon Lagrangian air trajectories.

Ramos A.M., Sprenger M., Wernli H., Durán-Quesada A., Lorenzo M. and Gimeno L.
Front. Earth Sci. 2:29. doi: 10.3389/feart.2014.00029

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A new classification method of the large-scale circulation characteristic for a specific target area (NW Iberian Peninsula) is presented, based on the analysis of 90-h backward trajectories arriving in this area calculated with the 3-D Lagrangian particle dispersion model FLEXPART. A cluster analysis is applied to separate the backward trajectories in up to five representative air streams for each day. Specific measures are then used to characterize the distinct air streams (e.g., curvature of the trajectories, cyclonic or anticyclonic flow, moisture evolution, origin and length of the trajectories). The robustness of the presented method is demonstrated in comparison with the Eulerian Lamb weather type classification. A case study of the 2003 heatwave is discussed in terms of the new Lagrangian circulation and the Lamb weather type classifications. It is shown that the new classification method adds valuable information about the pertinent meteorological conditions, which are missing in an Eulerian approach. The new method is climatologically evaluated for the 5-year time period from December 1999 to November 2004. The ability of the method to capture the inter-seasonal circulation variability in the target region is shown. Furthermore, the multi-dimensional character of the classification is shortly discussed, in particular with respect to inter-seasonal differences. Finally, the relationship between the new Lagrangian classification and the precipitation in the target area is studied.