North Atlantic Hurricane Activity: Past, Present and Future


Rym Msadek

08:30:00 - 09:20:00

101 , Mathematics Research Center Building (ori. New Math. Bldg.)

We review past, present and future North Atlantic hurricane activity from the revisited analysis of observational record and models projections. When adjusted for likely missed tropical storms, the observational record does not show any significant increase or decrease of North Atlantic hurricane activity. Some model projections of late 21st century hurricane activity indicate an increase in frequency of the strongest storms (category 4-5 hurricanes). The projected increase is substantial (+100% per century) in the CMIP3 ensemble model downscaling, but much smaller (+40%) and not statistically distinguishable from zero in the CMIP5 ensemble model downscaling. Rainfall rates for hurricanes are projected to increase and downscaling results for most CMIP5 models show a decrease in overall frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes. The largest source of uncertainty to predict changes in hurricane frequency in the Atlantic for the coming decades arises from the internal variability of the climate system. The predictability of hurricane frequency on multiyear timescales is investigated. Initial encouraging results suggest that skill may be achievable beyond the seasonal time scales. However the short record and the changing observational system limits our ability to confidently predict North Atlantic hurricane activity for now.

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