A cyclone climatology of the British-Irish Isles 1871-2012

The British-Irish Isles (BI) lie beneath the North Atlantic storm track year-round and thus are impacted by the passage of extra-tropical cyclones. Given recent extreme storminess and projections of enhanced winter cyclone activity for this region, there is much interest in assessing the extent to which the cyclone climate of the region may be changing. We address this by assessing a 142-year (1871-2012) record of cyclone frequency, intensity and 'storminess' derived from the 20th Century Reanalysis V2 (20CR) dataset. We also use this long-term record to examine associations between cyclone activity and regional hydroclimate. Our results confirm the importance of cyclone frequency in driving seasonal precipitation totals which we find to be greatest during summer months. Cyclone frequency and storminess are characterized by pronounced interannual and multi-decadal variability which are strongly coupled to atmospheric blocking in the Euro-Atlantic region, but we detect no evidence of an increasing trend. We observe an upward trend in cyclone intensity for the BI region, which is strongest in winter and consistent with model projections, but promote caution interpreting this given the changing data quality in the 20CR over time. Nonetheless, we assert that long-term reconstruction is helpful for contextualizing recent storminess and for identifying emerging changes in regional hydroclimate linked to cyclones.