Letter | Published:

Projected increase in tropical cyclones near Hawaii

Nature Climate Change volume 3, pages 749754 (2013) | Download Citation



Projections of the potential impacts of global warming on regional tropical cyclone activity are challenging owing to multiple sources of uncertainty in model physical schemes and different assumptions for future sea surface temperatures1. A key factor in projecting climate change is to derive robust signals of future changes in tropical cyclone activity across different model physical schemes and different future patterns in sea surface temperature. A suite of future warming experiments (2075–2099), using a state-of-the-art high-resolution global climate model1,2,3, robustly predicts an increase in tropical cyclone frequency of occurrence around the Hawaiian Islands. A physically based empirical model analysis3,4 reveals that the substantial increase in the likelihood of tropical cyclone frequency is primarily associated with a northwestward shifting of the tropical cyclone track in the open ocean southeast of the islands. Moreover, significant and robust changes in large-scale environmental conditions strengthen in situ tropical cyclone activity in the subtropical central Pacific. These results highlight possible future increases in storm-related socio-economic and ecosystem damage for the Hawaiian Islands.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    , & Future changes in tropical cyclone activity projected by multi-physics and multi-SST ensemble experiments using the 60-km-mesh MRI-AGCM. Clim. Dynam. 39, 2569–2584 (2012).

  2. 2.

    et al. Future changes in tropical cyclone activity projected by the new high-resolution MRI-AGCM. J. Clim. 25, 3237–3260 (2012).

  3. 3.

    , & Future changes in tropical cyclone activity in the North Indian Ocean projected by high-resolution MRI-AGCMs. Clim. Dynam. 40, 1949–1968 (2013).

  4. 4.

    & Attribution of decadal variability in tropical cyclone passage frequency over the Western North Pacific: A new approach emphasizing the genesis location of cyclones. J. Clim. 26, 973–987 (2013).

  5. 5.

    Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature 436, 686–688 (2005).

  6. 6.

    , , & Changes in tropical cyclone number, duration, and intensity in a warming environment. Science 309, 1844–1846 (2005).

  7. 7.

    , , & Can we detect trends in extreme tropical cyclones? Science 313, 452–454 (2006).

  8. 8.

    et al. Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nature Geosci. 3, 157–163 (2010).

  9. 9.

    et al. Tropical cyclone climatology in a global-warming climate as simulated in a 20 km-mesh global atmospheric model: Frequency and wind intensity analysis. J. Meteorol. Soc. Jpn 84, 259–276 (2006).

  10. 10.

    et al. How may tropical cyclones change in a warmer climate? Tellus 59A, 539–561 (2007).

  11. 11.

    , & Hurricanes and global warming: Results from downscaling IPCC AR4 simulations. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 89, 347–367 (2008).

  12. 12.

    , , & Simulations of global hurricane climatology, interannual variability, and response to global warming using a 50 km resolution GCM. J. Clim. 22, 6653–6678 (2009).

  13. 13.

    & Tropical cyclone-permitting GCM simulations of hurricane frequency response to sea surface temperature anomalies projected for the late-twenty-first century. J. Clim. 25, 2995–3009 (2012).

  14. 14.

    Solomon, S. et al. (eds) IPCC Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007).

  15. 15.

    & Global warming and the weakening of the tropical circulation. J. Clim. 20, 4316–4340 (2007).

  16. 16.

    et al. Global warming pattern formation: Sea surface temperature and rainfall. J. Clim. 23, 966–986 (2010).

  17. 17.

    et al. Global warming shifts Pacific tropical cyclone location. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L21804 (2010).

  18. 18.

    et al. in Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past, Present and Future (eds Murname, R. J. & Liu, K-B.) 177–221 (Columbia Univ. Press, 2004).

  19. 19.

    & Effect of model resolution on tropical cyclone climate projections. SOLA 6, 73–76 (2010).

  20. 20.

    & Future change of North Atlantic tropical cyclone tracks: Projection by a 20-km-mesh global atmospheric model. J. Clim. 23, 2699–2721 (2010).

  21. 21.

    , & Future change of western North Pacific typhoons: Projections by a 20-km-mesh global atmospheric model. J. Clim. 24, 1154–1169 (2011).

  22. 22.

    et al. The WCRP CMIP3 multimodel dataset: A new era in climate change research. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 88, 1383–1394 (2007).

  23. 23.

    Unisys weather hurricane/tropical data (Unisys); available at .

  24. 24.

    On displacement and intensity changes of atmospheric vortices. J. Mar. Res. 7, 175–196 (1948).

  25. 25.

    Tropical cyclone motion: Environmental interaction plus a beta effect. J. Atmos. Sci. 40, 328–342 (1983).

  26. 26.

    & The beta drift of three-dimensional vortices: A numerical study. Mon. Weath. Rev. 120, 579–593 (1992).

  27. 27.

    & Dissipative heating and hurricane intensity. Meteorol. Atmos. Phys. 65, 233–240 (1998).

  28. 28.

    & Attribution and impacts of upper-ocean biases in CCSM3. J. Clim. 19, 2325–2346 (2006).

Download references


This work was conducted under the framework of the ‘Projection of the Change in Future Weather Extremes Using Super-High-Resolution Atmospheric Models’ supported by the KAKUSHIN and SOUSEI programmes of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan. H.M. was supported by the ‘Research on Prediction of Climate and Environmental Change to Contribute to Mitigation Plan Decision Against Climate Change’ of the MRI of Japan. B.W. acknowledges the support from the Global Research Laboratory (GRL) Program of the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST, 2011-0021927). Calculations were performed on the Earth Simulator. This contribution is School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology publication No. 8917 and International Pacific Research Center publication No. 975.

Author information


  1. Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0052, Japan

    • Hiroyuki Murakami
    •  & Akio Kitoh
  2. Department of Meteorology and International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

    • Hiroyuki Murakami
    • , Bin Wang
    •  & Tim Li
  3. International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), University of Hawaii, 1680 East-West Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

    • Hiroyuki Murakami
  4. Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster, College of Atmospheric Science, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

    • Tim Li


  1. Search for Hiroyuki Murakami in:

  2. Search for Bin Wang in:

  3. Search for Tim Li in:

  4. Search for Akio Kitoh in:


H.M. designed this study, carried out the experiments and analysed the results. B.W. initiated this study and H.M. was the lead writer of the manuscript. Other authors made comments on and revised the initial manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hiroyuki Murakami.

Supplementary information

About this article

Publication history






Further reading

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing