The impact of natural and anthropogenic climate change on western North Pacific tropical cyclone tracks

Angela J. Colbert, Brian J. Soden, Ben P. Kirtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

The impact of natural and anthropogenic climate change on tropical cyclone (TC) tracks in the western North Pacific (WNP) is examined using a beta and advection model (BAM) to isolate the influence of changes in the large-scale steering flow from changes in genesis location. The BAM captures many of the observed changes in TC tracks due to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), while little change is noted for the Pacific decadal oscillation and all-India monsoon rainfall in either observations or BAM simulations. Analysis with theBAMsuggests that the observed shifts in the average track between the phases of ENSO are primarily due to changes in the large-scale steering flow, with changes in genesis location playing a secondary role. Potential changes in TC tracks over the WNP due to anthropogenic climate change are also assessed. Ensemble mean projections are downscaled from 17 CMIP3 models and 26 CMIP5 models. Statistically significant decreases [~(4%-6%)] in westward moving TCs and increases [~(5%-7%)] in recurving ocean TCs are found. These correspond to projected decreases of 3-5 TCs per decade over the Philippines and increases of 1-3 TCs per decade over the central WNP. The projected changes are primarily caused by a reduction in the easterlies. This slows the storm movement, allowing more time for the beta drift to carry the storm northward and recurve. A previous study found similar results in the North Atlantic. Taken together, these results suggest that a weakening of the mean atmospheric circulation in response to anthropogenic warming will lead to fewer landfalling storms over the North Atlantic and WNP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1806-1823
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Climate models
  • Climate variability
  • Tropical cyclones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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