Over the last century, increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gases and global temperature in the atmosphere has drawn our attention to changes in extra tropical cyclones which influence daily weather patterns in the mid and high latitudes and redistribute energy, momentum and moisture across the globe. This study is aimed at examining changes in extra tropical cyclones: observed over the past two decades using the NCEP-DOE reanalysis II data (NCEP2); and simulated in the CSIRO Mark2 atmosphere-ocean coupled general circulation model (GCM) with increasingCO2. Furthermore, we attempt to explore the physical mechanisms driving such changes by modelling idealised experiments with the Melbourne University atmospheric GCM. The Melbourne University cyclone finding and tracking scheme is utilised to detect and track cyclones observed in NCEP2 and simulated in the two models. / The study demonstrates significant changes in Southern Hemisphere (SH) cyclone features from 1979-2000. SH cyclones have decreased in their number at the surface but increased at the 500 hPa level. On the other hand, SH cyclone physical features such as intensity, radius and depth have significantly increased over the two decades at the mean sea level and 500 hPa level. Moreover, cyclones became vertically better organized in both hemispheres, and particularly in the SH. The changes in the characteristics of Northern Hemisphere (NH) cyclones were statistically less significant than their SH counterparts in the period of 1979-2000. / Results from the coupled climate model simulation with enhanced CO2 suggest general reductions in cyclone frequency and intensity throughout the troposphere between the surface and500 hPa level but increases in cyclone radius and organization of vertical structure. These changes are persistent throughout the entire transient run with increasing CO2 and during a 100 year stabilisation period. It is found in the CSIRO simulation with enhanced CO2 that the geographical changes of cyclone features are similar in both hemispheres and between the surface and 500 hPa level. Furthermore, we conclude that some observed changes in extra tropical cyclone features seem to follow the patterns of simulated changes with increasing CO2 from 1xCO2 to 2xCO2 particularly in the SH. / Modelling latitudinal temperature gradient at different levels of the troposphere has revealed that the warming over the tropics at the upper troposphere causes cyclone frequency and depth to increase in the high latitudes but decrease in the mid latitudes. By contrast, the warming over the high latitudes at the lower troposphere results in decreases in the cyclone features in the high latitudes but increases in them in the mid latitudes. Therefore, the warming over the tropics seems to play an important role in the changes in SH summer cyclone frequency and depth appearing in the simulation with enhanced CO2, whereas the warming over both tropics and high latitudes affects the changes in SH winter cyclone features. In the NH, the change in latitudinal temperature gradient seems less influential in the changes of cyclone features than it does in the SH.
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