Article

Climatic Change

, Volume 127, Issue 3, pp 535-546

First online:

Simulation of tropical cyclone impacts to the U.S. power system under climate change scenarios

  • Andrea StaidAffiliated withDepartment of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University Email author 
  • , Seth D. GuikemaAffiliated withDepartment of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Roshanak NateghiAffiliated withDepartment of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins UniversityResources For the Future
  • , Steven M. QuiringAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Texas A&M University
  • , Michael Z. GaoAffiliated withDepartment of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

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Abstract

The links between climate change and tropical cyclone behavior are frequently studied but still uncertain. This uncertainty makes planning for climate change a difficult task. Here we focus on one area of climate-related risk: the impact of tropical cyclones on United States power systems, and we evaluate this risk through the simulation of impacts to the power system under 12 plausible scenarios in which climate change may affect tropical cyclone intensity, frequency, and location. We use a sensitivity analysis based approached grounded in the literature rather than directly simulating from specific GCM output due to the high degree of uncertainty in both the climate models and the climate-hurricane relationship. We show how changes in tropical cyclone activity influence extreme wind speeds, probability of power outages, and the proportion of people without power. While climate change and its impacts are often discussed globally, this work provides information at a much more local scale. The sensitivity of an individual area can be assessed, and the information presented here can be incorporated into planning and mitigation strategies for power systems faced with an uncertain future in a changing climate.