Tropical cyclones and climate change

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

2213 Scopus Citations
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  • Thomas R. Knutson
  • John L. McBride
  • Johnny Chan
  • Kerry Emanuel
  • Greg Holland
  • And 5 others
  • Chris Landsea
  • Isaac Held
  • James P. Kossin
  • A. K. Srivastava
  • Masato Sugi


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
Journal / PublicationNature Geoscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


Whether the characteristics of tropical cyclones have changed or will change in a warming climate - and if so, how - has been the subject of considerable investigation, often with conflicting results. Large amplitude fluctuations in the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones greatly complicate both the detection of long-term trends and their attribution to rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Trend detection is further impeded by substantial limitations in the availability and quality of global historical records of tropical cyclones. Therefore, it remains uncertain whether past changes in tropical cyclone activity have exceeded the variability expected from natural causes. However, future projections based on theory and high-resolution dynamical models consistently indicate that greenhouse warming will cause the globally averaged intensity of tropical cyclones to shift towards stronger storms, with intensity increases of 2-11% by 2100. Existing modelling studies also consistently project decreases in the globally averaged frequency of tropical cyclones, by 6-34%. Balanced against this, higher resolution modelling studies typically project substantial increases in the frequency of the most intense cyclones, and increases of the order of 20% in the precipitation rate within 100km of the storm centre. For all cyclone parameters, projected changes for individual basins show large variations between different modelling studies. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Citation Format(s)

Tropical cyclones and climate change. / Knutson, Thomas R.; McBride, John L.; Chan, Johnny et al.
In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 3, No. 3, 03.2010, p. 157-163.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review