Recent trends in Australian region tropical cyclone activity
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The number of tropical cyclones observed in the Australian region (south of equator; 105–160° E) has apparently declined since the start of reliable (satellite) observations in the 1969/70 season. However, the number of more intense cyclones (with minimum pressures dropping to 970 hPa or lower) has increased slightly. The numbers of weak (minimum pressures not dropping below 990 hPa) and moderate systems (minimum pressures between 970 and 990 hPa) have declined. Possible reasons for these different trends are discussed. The decline in the number of weaker cyclones may at least partly reflect improved understanding of the nature of some weak systems. The decline in the number of cyclones more intense than 990 hPa primarily reflects the downward trend in the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). Previous work has demonstrated that the number of tropical cyclones observed in the Australian region each cyclone season is related to the value of the SOI prior to the start of the cyclone season. This relationship is clearest with the number of moderate cyclones. The SOI is only weakly related to the number of intense or weak cyclones. The increase in the number of intense cyclones is not attributable to the trend in the SOI. Nor is there clear reason, at present, to suspect that it is artificial (i.e., due to changes in observing or analysis techniques).
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