Projections of southern hemisphere tropical cyclone track density using CMIP5 models
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A recently validated algorithm for detecting and tracking tropical cyclones (TCs) in coarse resolution climate models was applied to a selected group of 12 models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) to assess potential changes in TC track characteristics in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) due to greenhouse warming. Current-climate simulations over the period 1970–2000 are first evaluated against observations using measures of TC genesis location and frequency, as well as track trajectory and lifetime in seven objectively defined genesis regions. The 12-model (12-M) ensemble showed substantial skill in reproducing a realistic TC climatology over the evaluation period. To address potential biases associated with model interdependency, analyses were repeated with an ensemble of five independent models (5-M). Results from both the 12-M and 5-M ensembles were very similar, instilling confidence in the models for climate projections if the current TC-climate relationship is to remain stationary. Projected changes in TC track density between the current- and future-climate (2070–2100) simulations under the Representatives Concentration 8.5 Pathways (RCP8.5) are also assessed. Overall, projection results showed a substantial decrease (~ 1–3 per decade) in track density over most parts of the SH by the end of the twenty-first century. This decrease is attributed to a significant reduction in TC numbers (~ 15–42%) consistent with changes in large-scale environmental parameters such as relative vorticity, environmental vertical wind shear and relative humidity. This study may assist with adaption pathways and implications for regional-scale climate change for vulnerable regions in the SH.
KeywordsTropical cyclone Track Southern hemisphere Model projection Climate change
Thanks to Hamish Ramsay, Paul Gregory and Mike Fiorino for some useful comments to improve the paper. This work is supported through funding from the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme (NESP). Samuel Bell is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend and RTP Fee-Offset Scholarship through Federation University Australia.
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