Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Reduced tropical cyclone densities and ocean effects due to anthropogenic greenhouse warming

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Science Advances  16 Dec 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 51, eabd5109
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd5109

Abstract

Tropical cyclones (TCs) are extreme storms that form over warm tropical oceans. Along their tracks, TCs mix up cold water, which can further affect their intensity. Because of the adoption of lower-resolution ocean models, previous modeling studies on the TC response to greenhouse warming underestimated such oceanic feedbacks. To address the robustness of TC projections in the presence of mesoscale air-sea interactions and complex coastal topography, we conduct greenhouse warming experiments using an ultrahigh-resolution Earth System Model. We find that a projected weakening of the rising branches of the summer Hadley cells suppresses future TC genesis and TC-generated ocean cooling. The forced response is similar to recent observational trends, indicating a possible emergence of the anthropogenic signal beyond natural variability levels. In the greenhouse warming simulations, landfalling TCs intensify, both in terms of wind speed and associated rainfall. Our modeling results provide relevant information for climate change adaptation efforts.

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