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Departmental Seminar
May 10, 2018

Is Climate Change Redefining the Acceleration Limit of Tropical Cyclones?

Kieran Bhatia
Princeton Univeristy

This study addresses whether recent trends in tropical cyclone (TC) intensification rates can be explained by the natural variability of the climate system. Two observational datasets are used to calculate 24-hour wind speed changes over the period 1982-2009 and determine whether the relative frequency of extreme intensification rates has increased. In general, TCs are found to accelerate more quickly but there are large variations depending on the basin and the dataset.

The trends in the observational datasets are then compared to bias-corrected high-resolution global coupled model experiments that accurately simulate the climatological distribution of TC intensity change. Natural variability cannot account for the observed increase in the highest intensification rates. Therefore, anthropogenic forcing is hypothesized to increase the likelihood of TCs rapidly intensifying, which will result in more difficult forecasts and vulnerable coastal communities.