New Research: Hurricane Frequency Steady Or Declining

The peer-reviewed scientific literature robustly affirms that land-falling hurricane frequencies and intensities have remained steady or declined in recent decades.  So have droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events.  But the editorial board of The Washington Post spurns this scientific evidence and inexplicably blames politicians and “those who deny” climate change for landfalling hurricanes and the associated damage. 

Image Source: The Washington Post 11/09/2018

It is well documented in the scientific literature that a cooler climate is associated with more weather extremes and hurricane activity, whereas a warmer climate leads to a reduction in weather extremes and hurricane activity.


“Recent review papers reported that many high-resolution global climate models consistently projected a reduction of global tropical cyclone (TC) frequency in a future warmer climate. (Sugi et al., 2015)

Our work illustrates a major constraint on the large-scale global atmospheric engine: As the climate warms, the system may be unable to increase its total entropy production enough to offset the moistening inefficiencies associated with phase transitions. This suggests thatin a future climate, the global atmospheric circulation might comprise highly energetic storms due to explosive latent heat release, but in such a case, the constraint on work output identified here will result in fewer numbers of such [highly energetic storm] events. … On a warming Earth, the increase in perceptible water has been identified as a reason for the tropical overturning to slow down,  and studies over a wide range of climates suggest that global atmospheric motions are reduced in extremely warm climates.  (Laliberté et al., 2015)

“Extratropical cyclones cause much of the high impact weather over the mid-latitudes. With increasing greenhouse gases, enhanced high-latitude warming will lead to weaker cyclone activity. Here we show that between 1979 and 2014, the number of strong cyclones in Northern Hemisphere in summer has decreased at a rate of 4% per decade, with even larger decrease found near northeastern North America.” (Chang et al., 2016)

The impact of climate change is seen in slightly decreased intensities in landfalling cyclones.” (Perrie et al., 2010)


The Washington Post editorial board has apparently decided that contrarian scientific evidence is subservient to their political aims.

This way they can justify blaming out-of-favor politicians and those who “deny” climate change for the devastating consequences of an impending landfalling hurricane.

Below are several scientific papers published within the last year that do not seem to support the Post’s angle that says we can reduce hurricane landfall frequencies if only we can agree to believe, rather than deny, that humans are responsible.


“Downward Trend Since 1950” In Landfalling Hurricane Frequency/Intensity


Truchelut and Staeling, 2018

“The extremely active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season concluded an extended period of quiescent continental United States tropical cyclone landfall activity that began in 2006, commonly referred to as the landfall drought. We introduce an extended climatology of U.S. tropical cyclone activity based on accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) and use this data set to investigate variability and trends in landfall activity. The [hurricane landfall] drought years between 2006 and 2016 recorded an average value of total annual ACE [accumulated cyclone energy] over the U.S. that was less than 60% of the 1900–2017 average.”

“Scaling this landfall activity metric by basin-wide activity reveals a statistically significant downward trend since 1950, with the percentage of total Atlantic ACE expended over the continental U.S. at a series minimum during the recent drought period.”


Klotzbach et al., 2018

“Continental United States (CONUS) hurricane-related inflation-adjusted damage has increased significantly since 1900. However, since 1900 neither observed CONUS [Continental United States] landfalling hurricane frequency nor intensity show significant trends, including the devastating 2017 season.”


Zhang et al., 2018     

Over the 1997–2014 period, the mean frequency of western North Pacific (WNP) tropical cyclones (TCs) was markedly lower (~18%) than the period 1980–1996. Here we show that these changes were driven by an intensification of the vertical wind shear in the southeastern/eastern WNP tied to the changes in the Walker circulation, which arose primarily in response to the enhanced sea surface temperature (SST) warming in the North Atlantic, while the SST anomalies associated with the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in the tropical Pacific and the anthropogenic forcing play only secondary roles.”


Zhao et al., 2018

“A vigorous debate has currently focused on the relationship between increasing TC [tropical cyclone] activity and increasing SST [sea surface temperatures] (Knutson et al. 2010). … [O]ver the WNP [Western North Pacific] basin,a significant decrease of TCF [tropical cyclone frequency] has been observed since 1998 (Liu and Chan 2013; Lin and Chan 2015; Zhao and Wang 2016). Global TCF [tropical cyclone frequency] has showed a similar reduction since the late 1990s (Maue 2011). Change of TCF over the past few decades does not appear to be consistent with changes in local SST. Observational analyses further pointed out that there is no significant correlation between the TCF [tropical cyclone frequency] and local SST [sea surface temperatures] over the WNP  [Western North Pacific] basin (Chan 2006; Yeh et al. 2010).”


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September 14, 2018 at 04:12AM

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