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WIREs Clim Change
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Tropical cyclones and climate change

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Recent research has strengthened the understanding of the links between climate and tropical cyclones (TCs) on various timescales. Geological records of past climates have shown century‐long variations in TC numbers. While no significant trends have been identified in the Atlantic since the late 19th century, significant observed trends in TC numbers and intensities have occurred in this basin over the past few decades, and trends in other basins are increasingly being identified. However, understanding of the causes of these trends is incomplete, and confidence in these trends continues to be hampered by a lack of consistent observations in some basins. A theoretical basis for maximum TC intensity appears now to be well established, but a climate theory of TC formation remains elusive. Climate models mostly continue to predict future decreases in global TC numbers, projected increases in the intensities of the strongest storms and increased rainfall rates. Sea level rise will likely contribute toward increased storm surge risk. Against the background of global climate change and sea level rise, it is important to carry out quantitative assessments on the potential risk of TC‐induced storm surge and flooding to densely populated cities and river deltas. Several climate models are now able to generate a good distribution of both TC numbers and intensities in the current climate. Inconsistent TC projection results emerge from modeling studies due to different downscaling methodologies and warming scenarios, inconsistencies in projected changes of large‐scale conditions, and differences in model physics and tracking algorithms. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:65–89. doi: 10.1002/wcc.371 This article is categorized under: Paleoclimates and Current Trends > Earth System Behavior
Plots of quantiles (mean to 0.9) of the lifetime maximum intensity (LMI) of storms in the various tropical cyclone formation basins, from a homogenized satellite‐based analysis of tropical cyclone intensity (1982–2009). (Reprinted with permission from Ref. Copyright 2013 American Meteorological Society)
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Fractional future changes (%) in TC genesis number for each basin for a group of ensemble experiments, for three different convection schemes and four different future SST patterns. The error bars indicate 90% confidence intervals. Blue bars indicate that projected future changes that are statistically significant at 90% level according to the two‐sided Student's t‐test. The number in the top left corner of each panel shows the standard deviation of twelve ensemble experiments (YG experiment is not included). (Reprinted with permission from Ref. Copyright 2012 Springer)
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Global distribution of TC tracks during all seasons from 1979 to 2003 for (a) observations, (b) and (c), two current climate TC simulations, and (d) the global warming projection using the same GCM as for (c). The numbers for each basin show the annual mean number of TCs. TC tracks are colored according to the intensities of the TCs as categorized by the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (e.g., tropical depression [TD], tropical storms [TSs], and TC category C1–C5). (Reprinted with permission from Ref. Copyright 2012 American Meteorological Society)
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Consensus future projection of tropical storm characteristics. (Reprinted with permission from Ref. Copyright 2013 Cambridge University Press)
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Climatology of a revised genesis index per year for (a) HiRAM climatology, (b) NCEP reanalysis, and (c) ERA‐40. (Reprinted with permission from Ref. Copyright 2014 American Meteorological Society)
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