Climate Dynamics

, Volume 44, Issue 7–8, pp 1801–1821 | Cite as

Changes in large-scale controls of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity with the phases of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation

  • Louis-Philippe Caron
  • Mathieu Boudreault
  • Cindy L. Bruyère


Atlantic tropical cyclone activity is known to oscillate between multi-annual periods of high and low activity. These changes have been linked to the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), a mode of variability in Atlantic sea surface temperature which modifies the large-scale conditions of the tropical Atlantic. Cyclone activity is also modulated at higher frequencies by a series of other climate factors, with some of these influences appearing to be more consistent than others. Using the HURDAT2 database and a second set of tropical cyclone data corrected for possible missing storms in the earlier part of the record, we investigate, through Poisson regressions, the relationship between a series of climate variables and a series of metrics of seasonal Atlantic cyclone activity during both phases of the AMO. We find that, while some influences, such as El Niño Southern oscillation, remain present regardless of the AMO phase, other climate factors show an influence during only one of the two phases. During the negative phase, Sahel precipitation and the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) are measured to play a role, while during the positive phase, the 11-year solar cycle and dust concentration over the Atlantic appear to be more important. Furthermore, we show that during the negative phase of the AMO, the NAO influences all our measures of tropical cyclone activity, and we go on to provide evidence that this is not simply due to changes in steering current, the mechanism by which the NAO is usually understood to impact Atlantic cyclone activity. Finally, we conclude by demonstrating that our results are robust to the sample size as well as to the choice of the statistical model.


Tropical cyclones Atlantic variability Poisson regression Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation 



The authors would like to thank all the people and organizations who made their data available: Gabriel Vecchi, Amato Evan, the National Hurricane Center, the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia, the Hadley Centre, the Earth System Research Laboratory, the National Climatic Data Center, the Solar Influences Data Analysis Center, the National Geophysical Data Center, ECMWF, the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Berlin and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington. Special thanks to Andreas Fink and Malvin Schneidewind who provided us with additional data, and to Thomas Jagger for some valuable feedback in the earlier stage of this project. We would also like to thank Katherine Barrett for putting her proofreading skills at our disposal and Jean-Philippe Boucher for providing additional comments on the statistics of this paper. We are also most grateful to Chris Landsea and an anonymous reviewer for taking the time to review an earlier version of this document, and for their most helpful comments and suggestions. Finally, Mathieu Boudreault would like to acknowledge support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Louis-Philippe Caron would like to acknowledge financial support from the EU-funded SPECS project (Grant # 3038378).

Supplementary material

382_2014_2186_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (8 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (xlsx 7 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis-Philippe Caron
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mathieu Boudreault
    • 3
  • Cindy L. Bruyère
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Rossby Centre, Swedish Meterological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)NorrköpingSweden
  2. 2.Climate Forecasting Unit, Institut Català de Ciències del Clima (IC3)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsUniversité du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)MontréalCanada
  4. 4.National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)BoulderUSA
  5. 5.Environmental Sciences and ManagementNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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