Filed Under:Risk, Climate Change

Warming to Change Atlantic Hurricane Patterns, But How?

A map at the National Hurricane Center in Miami shows the location of tropical weather systems Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. Hurricane Leslie is south of Bermuda. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
A map at the National Hurricane Center in Miami shows the location of tropical weather systems Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. Hurricane Leslie is south of Bermuda. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Scientists agree that Atlantic-basin hurricane patterns will be affected by a warming climate, but whether scientists use regional or global data to predict future storm patterns drastically alters what the forecasted trends will be.

New computer-driven research from Willis Research Network (WRN) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory shows storms in the coming century will be more severe but less frequent, which may keep the level of damage at the historical level.

The traditional standard metric measuring the strength of a hurricane season, the Power Dissipation Index (PDI), provides a jarring view of global warming, predicting that the intensity and duration of storms across hurricane seasons may jump by 200 to 300 percent from 1946 to 2100.

The PDI accounts for the number, strength and length of the period’s tropical storms and hurricanes. It then assesses the statistical correlation between observed hurricane activity levels and linked indicators such as sea surface temperatures (SST), projecting it onto future hurricane activity by correlating it to historical data.

However, Willis’s data-heavy computational method involves the use of global and regional climate models to simulate the processes underlying storm formation in specific areas.

WRN’s data projects storm frequency to decrease by 6 to 34 percent, wind speed to top out at an increase of 11 percent, and rainfall rate within 62 miles of the storm center to reach a maximum of 20 percent above normal in the coming century.

 

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