Climate & Environment

    Extreme Weather Events

    Climate Change

Joint Research Initiative


Elucidating the Role of Extratropical Cyclones in High-Impact Weather in Europe

Extratropical cyclones (ETCs) are a major hazard for Europe as they cause most of the windstorms and floods in the...

Extratropical cyclones (ETCs) are a major hazard for Europe as they cause most of the windstorms and floods in the mid-latitudes, resulting in high economic and social costs. As ETCs are a main natural peril for AXA in Europe, addressing the risks posed by ETCs is of utmost importance.  

Despite their significant relevance, there are still uncertainties surrounding the future risks imposed by ETCs due to the complex atmospheric processes involved in their development. Researchers face challenges in modeling and assessing these risks accurately as well as in understanding their potential impacts. The Joint Research Initiative led by the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science (IAC) at ETH Zurich with AXA Group Risk Management aims to address these uncertainties and provide a comprehensive approach that quantifies and evaluates the future environmental risks posed by ETCs in Europe. 

The research team will look at several questions such as the global warming induced changes in intensity, precipitation, and wind speed associated with ETC affecting Europe. Additionally, the project will analyze the accumulated impact of recurring ETC landfalls on subseasonal and seasonal time scales. Moreover, the team also aims to understand the role of specific physical processes, such as sting jets (SJs), which are exceptionally strong windstorms within ETCs. 

To achieve these goals, the team will use unique diagnostic tools developed inhouse and high-resolution model datasets that enable detailed cyclone tracking and the application of demanding diagnostics. This comprehensive dataset will allow researchers to investigate subseasonal and seasonal changes in cyclone occurrence and their relationship to high-impact weather. 

The research results will contribute to better predictions of the impact of ETCs in Europe and will enable policymakers and insurers to take proactive measures in mitigating their impact on society and the economy.

February, 2024 



ETH Zürich

Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science





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