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Climatic Change


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U.S. landfalling tropical cyclone (TC) activity was projected for late 21st century conditions using a two-step dynamical downscaling framework. A regional atmospheric model, run for 27 seasons, generated tropical storm cases. Each storm case was re-simulated (up to 15 days) using the higher resolution GFDL hurricane model. Thirteen CMIP3 or CMIP5 modeled climate change projections were explored as scenarios. Robustness of projections was assessed using statistical significance tests and comparing the sign of changes derived from different models. The proportion of TCs (tropical storms and hurricanes) making U.S. landfall increases for the warming scenarios (by order 50% or more). For category 1-3 hurricane frequency, a robust decrease is projected (basin-wide), but robust changes are not projected for U.S. landfalling cases. A relatively robust increase in U.S. landfalling category 4-5 hurricane frequency is projected, averaging about +400% across the models; 10 of 13 models/ensembles project an increase (statistically significant in three individual models), while three models projected no change. The most robust projections overall for U.S. landfalling TC activity are for increased near-storm rainfall rates: these increases average +18% (all tropical storms and hurricanes), +26% (all hurricanes), and +37% (major hurricanes). Landfalling hurricane wind speed intensities show no robust signal, in contrast to a ~5% increase in basin-averaged TC intensity; basin-wide Power Dissipation Index (PDI) is projected to decrease, partly due to decreased duration. TC translation speed increases a few percent in most simulations. A caveat is the framework’s low correlation of modeled U.S. TC landfalls vs. observed interannual variations (1980-2016).


This preprint is under consideration at Climatic Change. A preprint is a preliminary version of a manuscript that has not completed peer review at a journal.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)

Original Publication Citation

Knutson, T. R., Sirutis, J., J., Bender, M. A., & Tuleya, R. E. (2021). Dynamical downscaling projections of late 21st century U.S. landfalling hurricane activity. Research Square, 1-11.