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Projected increase in tropical cyclones near Hawaii

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Abstract

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.

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Figure 1: Annual mean of TCF (number per year, colour scale) counted at every 5°×5° grid cell.
Figure 2: Ensemble mean contribution of each term to changes in TCF (colour scale) calculated by the empirical statistical analysis.
Figure 3: Simulated mean steering flow during July–October.
Figure 4: July–October mean large-scale variables.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Hiroyuki Murakami.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Murakami, H., Wang, B., Li, T. et al. Projected increase in tropical cyclones near Hawaii. Nature Clim Change 3, 749–754 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1890

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