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Recent research indicates that the annual-mean locations of tropical cyclones have migrated toward higher latitudes. Concurrently, an anthropogenically forced tropical expansion has been observed, yet the connection between the two processes remains little-explored. Here, using observational and reanalysis data, we investigate how large-scale dynamical effects, com-bined with coherent changes in the regional Hadley circulation, explain recent changes in regional tropical cyclone genesis over 1980–2014. We show that the recent anomalous upper-level weakening of the rising branch of the Hadley circulation in the deep tropics, possibly induced by the increased vertical stability, has likely suppressed the low-latitude tropical cyclone genesis in most ocean basins via anomalous large-scale subsidence. Regional Hadley circulation variations have also favoured a poleward displacement of tropical-cyclone-favourable climate conditions through poleward shift of the Hadley circulation’s meridional extent. With projections indicating continued tropical expansion, these results indicate that tropical cyclone genesis will also continue to shift poleward, potentially increasing tropical-cyclone-related hazards in higher-latitude regions.
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1School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia. 2Faculty of Science and Technology, Federation University, Mount Helen, Australia.
Tropical cyclones (TCs) are among the most catastrophic of
high-impact weather events and have triggered substantial
mortality and huge economic damage over populated tropi-
cal coastal regions in recent decades1. Because the life-cycles of TCs
are critically sensitive to large-scale tropical climate conditions2,3,
the observed increases in the sea surface temperatures (SST) over
tropical ocean basins in recent decades4,5 attributed to anthropo-
genic global warming6 are expected to complicate the status and fate
of TC genesis (TCG) around the globe through gradual modifica-
tion of TC-favourable tropical environments7,8. Despite increasing
research efforts, the issue of how regional-scale TCG has changed or
will change in the context of global warming remains controversial
and challenging6,9,10. An improved understanding of the underlying
warming-induced climatic factors and relevant physical mecha-
nisms that have regulated the regional-scale TCG in recent decades
is therefore crucial to benchmark future TC estimates.
Recent research11 indicates that the observed annual-mean loca-
tions where TCs reach their lifetime-maximum intensity (LMI)
have migrated poleward in most regions in the past 30 years, con-
current with marked changes in the TC-favourable large-scale
climate conditions. A follow-up modelling study12 projected con-
tinuing poleward shift of LMI over the western north Pacific in a
warmer climate. Many recent modelling studies13,14 argue that global
warming could lead to shifts in TC pathways, although the regional-
scale projections remain largely ambiguous4,15. Several recent stud-
ies1619 have noted a significant poleward shift of annual-mean LMI,
particularly over the western north Pacific, but the possible reasons
remain challenging to identify. With some degree of uncertainty,
a recent study20 identified a comparable displacement of annual-
mean TCG locations, linked with sub-tropical displacement of
TC-favourable conditions as measured by potential genesis indi-
ces21,22 (an empirical tool based on a suite of large-scale climate con-
ditions used to identify the potential TC activity) over the Pacific
basins. These results demonstrate potentially increased threats to
locations at higher latitudes that have not been historically prone
to TC-related hazards. However, the physical processes that have
triggered such a migration remain unclear. Although various modes
of natural climate variability at interannual to decadal timescales,
including El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific
Decadal Oscillations (PDO) influence the regional TCG, no direct
association could be established with the poleward migration of
TCG11,12,20, suggesting that part of the migration could be indepen-
dent of known dominant climate variability12. Previous studies11,12
anticipated that such a poleward migration could possibly be linked
with the independent expansion of the tropical belt observed since
1980, caused by anthropogenic warming23. However, the possible
key mechanisms that link the warming-induced observed tropi-
cal expansion with large-scale climate factors known to modulate
TCG and their poleward displacement in recent decades remains
The expansion of the tropics is related to the characteristics of
the thermally driven tropical mean meridional overturning cir-
culation, also known as the Hadley circulation (HC), a crucial
factor for various climatic feedbacks across the globe. Recent evi-
dence23,24 indicates that the HC is expanding and the zones of the
sub-tropical descending branch are progressively shifting poleward
since 1980, although large uncertainty exists on the rate of widen-
ing. Apart from stratospheric ozone depletion25, the HC expansion
is responsive to anthropogenic climate forcing26,27, while increasing
atmospheric stability is predicted to slow down the HC in a warmer
climate28,29. Various modes of natural climate variability, includ-
ing ENSO and PDO at interannual to decadal timescales can also
influence the position of the tropical edge26,30, but interpretation
of such climate trends is difficult and constrained by limited data
records. Because the attribution of any global-warming impact on
regional-scale TCG is complex, and still controversial, a systematic
understanding of the warming-induced behavioural changes in
regional-scale HC in close association with TC-favourable climate
conditions in the recent period will therefore provide a useful per-
spective for future TC estimates. A recent study31 noted that both
TCG and LMI latitudes share trends and magnitudes with shifts
in the hemispheric-mean HC extent and vertically averaged HC
intensity, while associated trends in local HCs remain uncer-
tain. Using a regression approach, the study suggests a potential
Recent poleward shift of tropical cyclone
formation linked to Hadley cell expansion
S. Sharmila 1,2* and K. J. E. Walsh1
Recent research indicates that the annual-mean locations of tropical cyclones have migrated toward higher latitudes.
Concurrently, an anthropogenically forced tropical expansion has been observed, yet the connection between the two processes
remains little-explored. Here, using observational and reanalysis data, we investigate how large-scale dynamical effects, com-
bined with coherent changes in the regional Hadley circulation, explain recent changes in regional tropical cyclone genesis
over 1980–2014. We show that the recent anomalous upper-level weakening of the rising branch of the Hadley circulation in
the deep tropics, possibly induced by the increased vertical stability, has likely suppressed the low-latitude tropical cyclone
genesis in most ocean basins via anomalous large-scale subsidence. Regional Hadley circulation variations have also favoured
a poleward displacement of tropical-cyclone-favourable climate conditions through poleward shift of the Hadley circulation’s
meridional extent. With projections indicating continued tropical expansion, these results indicate that tropical cyclone genesis
will also continue to shift poleward, potentially increasing tropical-cyclone-related hazards in higher-latitude regions.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved
... N). These present-day trends appear to be associated with changes in both the ocean (SST patterns; Fig. 4a) and atmospheric thermodynamics (PI; Fig. 4b), and dynamics (vertical shear, large-scale tropospheric winds) 94,96,99 . Additionally, genesis potential has increased during this period (Fig. 4e). ...
... A separate explanation for recent TC poleward migration invokes suppressed genesis in the deep tropics caused by increased dry static stability in the warming tropical atmosphere 99 (Fig. 4a). However, the extent to which changes in the time-mean static stability effect actual TC processes is unclear. ...
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Tropical cyclones (TCs, also known as hurricanes and typhoons) generally form at low latitudes with access to the warm waters of the tropical oceans, but far enough off the equator to allow planetary rotation to cause aggregating convection to spin up into coherent vortices. Yet, current prognostic frameworks for TC latitudes make contradictory predictions for climate change. Simulations of past warm climates, such as the Eocene and Pliocene, show that TCs can form and intensify at higher latitudes than of those during pre-industrial conditions. Observations and model projections for the twenty-first century indicate that TCs may again migrate poleward in response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, which poses profound risks to the planet’s most populous regions. Previous studies largely neglected the complex processes that occur at temporal and spatial scales of individual storms as these are poorly resolved in numerical models. Here we review this mesoscale physics in the context of responses to climate warming of the Hadley circulation, jet streams and Intertropical Convergence Zone. We conclude that twenty-first century TCs will most probably occupy a broader range of latitudes than those of the past 3 million years as low-latitude genesis will be supplemented with increasing mid-latitude TC favourability, although precise estimates for future migration remain beyond current methodologies. Hurricanes and typhoons are tracking further poleward due to the effects of climate change, according to a synthesis of numerical modelling results, observations and palaeoclimate records.
... Moreover, global climate models are not typically run at scales needed to resolve changes in TC characteristics (particularly intensity) at island-scale, substantially limiting our ability to understand the effects of climate change on TCs over small island countries Fig. 5 Schematic representation of the linkages between natural climate variability, human-induced global warming and tropical cyclones. Note that this diagram is not exclusive and does not quantify the changes, but instead demonstrates how different climatic factors may interact to affect TC characteristics and associated impacts over the SWP region ( 1 Vecchi et al. 2006;2 Yeh et al. 2009;3 Power and Kociuba 2011;4 Kim and Yu 2012;5 Sugi et al. 2012;6 Sugi and Yoshimura 2012;7 Tokinaga et al. 2012;8 Church et al. 2013;9 Hartmann et al. 2013;10 Tory et al. 2013;11 Woodruff et al. 2013;12 Cai et al. 2014;13 Kossin et al. 2014;14 Lucas et al. 2014;15 Walsh et al. 2016;16 Chand et al. 2017;17 Taupo and Noy 2017;18 Chand 2018;19 Kossin 2018;20 Sharmila and Walsh 2018;21 Andrew et al. 2019;22 Chand et al. 2020) ▸ Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved. ...
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Tropical cyclones (TCs) are amongst the costliest natural hazards for southwest Pacific (SWP) Island nations. Extreme winds coupled with heavy rainfall and related coastal hazards, such as large waves and high seas, can have devastating consequences for life and property. Effects of anthropogenic climate change are likely to make TCs even more destructive in the SWP (as that observed particularly over Fiji) and elsewhere around the globe, yet TCs may occur less often. However, the underpinning science of quantifying future TC projections amid multiple uncertainties can be complex. The challenge for scientists is how to turn such technical knowledge framed around uncertainties into tangible products to inform decision-making in the disaster risk management (DRM) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) sector. Drawing on experiences from past TC events as analogies to what may happen in a warming climate can be useful. The role of science-based climate services tailored to the needs of the DRM and DRR sector is critical in this context. In the first part of this paper, we examine cases of historically severe TCs in the SWP and quantify their socio-economic impacts. The second part of this paper discusses a decision-support framework developed in collaboration with a number of agencies in the SWP, featuring science-based climate services that inform different stages of planning in national-level risk management strategies.
... Our delta approach implicitly captures future TC behavior that has been a topic of discussion in recent literature, such as a poleward shift of TC tracks (31,32,55,56) or a change in TC translational speed (57). A potential poleward extension of TC tracks may follow from the shift in genesis locations in combination with a shift in the first-step changes in longitude and latitude, and the longitudinal and latitudinal residual terms. ...
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There is considerable uncertainty surrounding future changes in tropical cyclone (TC) frequency and intensity, particularly at local scales. This uncertainty complicates risk assessments and implementation of risk mitigation strategies. We present a novel approach to overcome this problem, using the statistical model STORM to generate 10,000 years of synthetic TCs under past (1980-2017) and future climate (SSP585; 2015-2050) conditions from an ensemble of four high-resolution climate models. We then derive high-resolution (10-km) wind speed return period maps up to 1000 years to assess local-scale changes in wind speed probabilities. Our results indicate that the probability of intense TCs, on average, more than doubles in all regions except for the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mexico. Our unique and innovative methodology enables globally consistent comparison of TC risk in both time and space and can be easily adapted to accommodate alternative climate scenarios and time periods.
... Waves are generated by globalregional wind and pressure systems. The temperature-induced poleward expansion of the global pressure-wind belts (Krupar and Smith, 2019;Sharmila and Walsh, 2018) will therefore have a profound impact on wave climates, and consequently beach systems. AR6 (chapter 9) reports that tropical cyclones (TC) have increased in intensity over the past 40 years and their average position has migrated poleward. ...
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This paper reviews the past behaviour and present status of Australian beach systems and their likely response to the impacts of climate change in the coming century. The 2021 IPCC AR6 report, besides highlighting rising sea level and changing storm tracks in the Australian region, places high confidence in general recession of most Australian beaches by 2100. However, Holocene barrier studies, decades of field survey data from a number of sites and satellite mapping of the entire coast indicate that 78% of Australia's beaches have been stable over the past 30–40 years. The data also indicate that while some beaches are receding, others are accreting, and the majority are stable. A sea-level tipping point is yet to be reached and these beaches are unlikely to begin recession in the timeframe or on the scale predicted by AR6 during the 21st millennium. The field data also documents considerable variation between beaches, even adjoining beaches, highlighting the need to undertake studies and predictions at a local level. The issue with the AR6 predictions is the simplistic modelling applied on a global scale, which while seemingly attractive, cannot deliver the level of detail required at the local level. In addition, shifting pressure belts and wave climates, may have at least the same, if not a greater magnitude of impact on many beaches, as the sea level rise. In order to make accurate predictions of future beach behaviour a sediment compartment approach is advocated, based on detailed seabed topography, sediment sources and paths, and changing regional wave and tide regimes. It seems unlikely that a single sea level tipping point will trigger widespread recession around Australia, rather sea level in combination with other regional and local factors will determine when and how each beach responds to these impacts.
... Previous studies [3][4][5] showed that the LMI has been increasing in the past decades. The location of LMI is also migrating toward the coasts 6 and the poles 7 , potentially due to the expansion of the tropics 8 . Regionally, this coastal poleward shift of LMI may change the TC threat to the coasts in the western North Pacific 9-11 and elsewhere. ...
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It remains unclear how tropical cyclones (TCs) decay from their ocean lifetime maximum intensity (LMI) to landfall intensity (LI), yet this stage is of fundamental importance governing the socio-economic impact of TCs. Here we show that TCs decay on average by 25% from LMI to LI. A logistic decay model of energy production by ocean enthalpy input and surface dissipation by frictional drag, can physically connect the LMI to LI. The logistic model fits the observed intensity decay as well as an empirically exponential decay does, but with a clear physical foundation. The distance between locations of LMI and TC landfall is found to dominate the variability of the decay from the LMI to LI, whereas environmental conditions are generally less important. A major TC at landfall typically has a very large LMI close to land. The LMI depends on the heating by ocean warming, but the LMI location is also important to future landfall TC intensity changes which are of socio-economic importance.
Quantifying historical trends in tropical cyclone activity has proved difficult, but a new reconstruction reveals a clear global decline over the past century, driven by an increasingly cyclone-hostile environment in the troposphere.
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Tropical cyclones undergo extratropical transition (ET) in every ocean basin. Projected changes in ET frequency under climate change are uncertain and differ between basins, so multimodel studies are required to establish confidence. We used a feature-tracking algorithm to identify tropical cyclones and performed cyclone phase-space analysis to identify ET in an ensemble of atmosphere-only and fully coupled global model simulations, run at various resolutions under historical (1950–2014) and future (2015–2050) forcing. Historical simulations were evaluated against five reanalyses for 1979–2018. Considering ET globally, ensemble-mean biases in track and genesis densities are reduced in the North Atlantic and Western North Pacific when horizontal resolution is increased from ∼100 to ∼25km. At high resolution, multireanalysis-mean climatological ET frequencies across most ocean basins as well as basins’ seasonal cycles are reproduced better than in low-resolution models. Skill in simulating historical ET interannual variability in the North Atlantic and Western North Pacific is ∼0.3, which is lower than for all tropical cyclones. Models project an increase in ET frequency in the North Atlantic and a decrease in the Western North Pacific. We explain these opposing responses by secular change in ET seasonality and an increase in lower-tropospheric, pre-ET warm-core strength, both of which are largely unique to the North Atlantic. Multimodel consensus about climate-change responses is clearer for frequency metrics than for intensity metrics. These results help clarify the role of model resolution in simulating ET and help quantify uncertainty surrounding ET in a warming climate.
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Recent studies have noted a poleward shift in tropical cyclone (TC) lifetime maximum intensity (LMI) location. Whether this observed shift is due to global warming, natural variability or a combination of both factors remains inconclusive. The western North Pacific (WNP) has been shown in prior research to be the most robust contributor to the observed poleward LMI migration. This study explores inter-annual and inter-decadal climate drivers of WNP LMI location from 1979–2018. On inter-annual time scales, there are more northward-moving TC tracks during El Niño years compared with La Niña years. However, there is substantially smaller variance in the latitudinal distance from TC genesis latitude to LMI latitude than the variance in the TC genesis latitude. Thus, TC genesis El Nino years tend to reach their LMI at a lower latitude given the increased likelihood that they undergo genesis at a lower latitude. On decadal or longer timescales, global warming has contributed to the recent poleward shift of LMI location by causing more northwestward/northward-moving TC tracks, while the PDO also significantly modulates decadal variability in TC genesis latitude, thus also contributing to LMI latitude changes. Further analyses of the extended period from 1960–2018 suggests that the trends in TC LMI latitude and TC tracks are dominated by global warming, and the PDO phase change likely reinforces this trend during 1979–2018. These three leading modes of climate variability (e.g., ENSO, PDO and global warming) offer a more complete picture of the meridional migration of WNP LMI location on various timescales.
This study analyzes landfall locations of tropical cyclones (TCs) over the western North Pacific during 1979–2018. Results demonstrate that the landfall locations of TCs over this region have shifted northward during the last four decades, primarily due to the shift of landfalling TC tracks, with the decreasing/increasing proportion of westward/northward TC tracks. In particular, the northward shift of the landfalling TCs was not related to their formation locations, which have not markedly changed, whereas “no-landed” TCs have significantly shifted northward. TC movement was significantly and positively correlated to the zonal component of the steering flow, while the correlation between TC movement and the meridional component of the steering flow was relatively unobvious. The westward steering flow in the tropical central Pacific that occurred around the formation and early development of the westward TCs was significantly weakened, which was unfavorable for their westward movement, thereby, causing the higher proportions of northward moving tracks. This weakened westward flow was related to the northward shift of the subtropical high ridge, which was caused by significant weakening of the southern part of the subtropical high. The vertical wind shear, sea surface temperature, and convective available potential energy also showed that the northern region of the western North Pacific became more favorable for TC development, whereas the upper divergence, low-layer relative vorticity, and accumulated water vapor content were not obviously related to the northward shift of TCs.
Full-text available
Due to a lack of observations and limited understanding of the complex mechanisms of tropical cyclone (TC) genesis, the possible TC activity response to future climate change remains controversial. In this work, a machine learning model, called the maximum entropy (MaxEnt) model, is established using various environmental variables. The model performs slightly better than the genesis potential index for historical TC activities based on the spatial correlation coefficient. Using coupled model intercomparison project phase 6 model projections, the MaxEnt model predicts a statistically significant decreasing trend of TC genesis probability under all shared socioeconomic pathway scenarios. In addition, our analysis reveals that TC genesis might have a complex nonlinear relationship with potential intensity, which is different from the positive relationship reported in previous studies and might be the key factor leading to the model predicting reduced TC genesis in the future.
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The long-term tendency of the average latitude at which tropical cyclones (TCs) reach their lifetime maximum intensity (LMI) over the western North Pacific (WNP) is investigated in this study. Despite the post-1961 significant poleward shift in the annual mean LMI latitude, the migration rate is non-uniform on decadal timescales, having an insignificant trend and a significant increasing trend before and after 1980, respectively. Interdecadal fluctuations of TC genesis latitude (φG) as well as increases in latitudinal distance between genesis position and LMI location (Δφ) are both responsible for the observed LMI latitude trends. The former is linked to the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), which favors TCs forming in the northwestern (southeastern) quadrant of the WNP in negative (positive) IPO phases. The latter primarily results from the continuous warming of WNP SST, which further increases the maximum potential intensity and extends the region favorable for TC development to higher latitudes.
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Significant advances have been made in understanding the key climate factors responsible for tropical cyclone (TC) activity, yet any theory that estimates likelihood of observed TC formation rates from mean climate states remains elusive. The present study investigates how the extremes of observed TC genesis (TCG) frequency during peak TC seasons are interrelated with distinct changes in the large-scale climate conditions over different ocean basins using the global best-track dataset (IBTrACS) and ERA-Interim reanalysis for the period 1979-2014. Peak TC seasons with significantly high and low TCG frequency are identified for five major ocean basins, and their substantial spatial changes in TCG are noted with regionally distinct differences. To explore the possible climate link behind such changes, a suite of potentially relevant dynamical and thermodynamical climate conditions are analyzed. Results indicate that the observed changes in extreme TCG frequency are closely linked with distinct dominance of specific dynamical and thermodynamical climate conditions over different regions. While the combined influences of dynamical and thermodynamical climate conditions are found to be necessary for modulating TC formation rate over the North Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Southern Indian Ocean, significant changes in large-scale dynamical conditions appear to solely control the TCG frequency over the Western Pacific and Southern Pacific basins. Estimation of the fractional changes in genesis-weighted climate conditions also indicates the coherent but distinct competing effects of different climate conditions on TCG frequency. The present study further points out the need for revising the existing genesis indices for estimating TCG frequency over individual basins.
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The poleward migration of the annual mean location of tropical cyclone (TC) lifetime maximum intensity (LMI) has been identified in the major TC basins of the globe over the past 30 years, which is particularly robust over the western North Pacific (WNP). This study has revealed that this poleward migration consists mainly of weak TCs (with maximum sustained surface wind speed less than 33 m s-1) over the WNP. Results show that the location of LMI of weak TCs has migrated about 1° latitude poleward per decade since 1980, while such a trend is considerably smaller for intense TCs. This is found to be linked to a significant decreasing trend of TC genesis in the southern WNP and a significant increasing trend in the northwestern WNP over the past 30 years. It is shown that the greater sea surface temperature (SST) warming at higher latitudes associated with global warming and its associated changes in the large-scale circulation favor more TCs to form in the northern WNP and fewer but stronger TCs to form in the southern WNP.
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Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades. Tropospheric warming trends over recent 20-year periods are always significantly larger (at the 10% level or better) than model estimates of 20-year trends arising from natural internal variability. Over the full 38-year period of the satellite record, the separation between observed warming and internal variability estimates is even clearer. In two out of three recent satellite datasets, the tropospheric warming from 1979 to 2016 is unprecedented relative to internally generated temperature trends on the 38-year timescale.
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Observations show the tropical belt has widened over the past few decades, a phenomenon associated with poleward migration of subtropical dry zones and large-scale atmospheric circulation. Coupled climate models also simulate tropical belt widening, but less so than observed. Reasons for this discrepancy, and the mechanisms driving the expansion remain uncertain. Here, we show the role of unforced, natural climate variability--particularly natural sea surface temperature (SST) variability--in recent tropical widening. Compared to coupled ocean atmosphere models, atmosphere only simulations driven by observed SSTs consistently lead to larger rates of tropical widening, especially in the Northern Hemisphere (NH), highlighting the importance of recent SST evolution. Assuming the ensemble mean SSTs from historical simulations accurately represent the externally forced response, the observed SSTs can be decomposed into a forced and an unforced component. Targeted simulations with the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) show that natural SST variability accounts for nearly all of the widening associated with recent SST evolution. This is consistent with the similarity of the unforced SSTs to the observed SSTs, both of which resemble a cold El Nino Southern Oscillation/Pacific Decadal Oscillation (ENSO/PDO)-like SST pattern, which is associated with a wider tropical belt. Moreover, CAM5 coupled simulations with observed central to eastern tropical Pacific SSTs yield more than double the rate of widening compared to analogous simulations without prescribed tropical Pacific SSTs, and reproduce the magnitude of tropical widening in atmosphere only simulations. Our results suggest that the bulk of recent tropical widening--particularly in the NH--is due to unforced, natural SST variability, primarily related to recent ENSO/PDO variability.
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A recent study showed that the global average latitude where tropical cyclones achieve their lifetime-maximum intensity has been migrating poleward at a rate of about one-half degree of latitude per decade over the last 30 years in each hemisphere. However, it does not answer a critical question: is the poleward migration of tropical cyclone lifetime-maximum intensity associated with a poleward migration of tropical cyclone genesis? In this study we will examine this question. First we analyze changes in the environmental variables associated with tropical cyclone genesis, namely entropy deficit, potential intensity, vertical wind shear, vorticity, skin temperature and specific humidity at 500 hPa in reanalysis datasets between 1980 and 2013. Then, a selection of these variables is combined into two tropical cyclone genesis indices that empirically relate tropical cyclone genesis to large-scale variables. We find a shift toward greater (smaller) average potential number of genesis at higher (lower) latitudes over most regions of the Pacific Ocean, which is consistent with a migration of tropical cyclone genesis towards higher latitudes. We then examine the global best track archive and find coherent and significant poleward shifts in mean genesis position over the Pacific Ocean basins.
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In order to understand the regional impacts of variations in the extent of the Hadley circulation in the Southern Hemisphere, regional Hadley circulations are defined in three sectors centered on the main tropical heat sources over Africa, Asia-Pacific (Maritime Continent) and the Americas. These regional circulations are defined by computing a streamfunction from the divergent component of the meridional wind. A major finding from this study is that year-to-year variability in the extent of the hemispheric Hadley circulation in the Southern Hemisphere is primarily governed by variations of the extent of the Hadley circulation in the Asia-Pacific sector, especially during austral spring and summer when there is little co-variability with the African sector, and the American sector exhibits an out of phase behavior. An expanded Hadley circulation in the Southern Hemisphere (both hemispherically and in the Asia-Pacific sector) is associated with La Niña conditions and a poleward expansion of the tropical wet zone in the Asia-Pacific sector. While La Niña also promotes expansion in the American and African sectors during austral winter, these tropical conditions tend to promote contraction in the two sectors during austral summer as a result of compensating convergence over the Americas and Africa sectors: a process driven by variations in the Walker circulation and Rossby wave trains emanating from the tropical Indian Ocean.
Poleward trends in seasonal-mean latitudes of tropical cyclones (TCs) have been identified in direct observations from 1980 to the present. Paleoclimate reconstructions also indicate poleward–equatorward migrations over centennial–millennial time scales. Hadley circulation (HC) is often both implicitly and explicitly invoked to provide dynamical linkages to these shifts, although no direct analysis of concurrent changes in the recent period has been presented. Here, the observational TC record (1981–2016) and ERA-Interim, JRA-55, and MERRA-2 are studied to examine potential relationships between the two. A zonally asymmetric HC is defined by employing Helmholtz theory for vector decomposition, and this permits the derivation of novel HC diagnostics local to TC basins. Coherent variations in both long-term linear trends and detrended interannual variability are found. TC genesis and lifetime maximum intensity latitudes share trend sign and magnitude with shifts in local HC extent, with rates being approximately 0.25° ± 0.1° lat decade−1. Both these life cycle stages in hemispheric means and all Pacific TC basins, as well as poleward-extreme North Atlantic lysis latitudes, shared approximately 35% of their interannual variability with HC extent. Local HC intensity is linked only to eastern North Pacific TC latitudes, where strong local overturning corresponds to equatorward TC shifts. Examination of potential dynamical linkages implicates La Niña–like sea surface temperature gradients to poleward HC termini. This corresponds to increased tropical and reduced subtropical vertical wind shear everywhere except in the North Atlantic and western North Pacific, where the opposite is true. These results quantify a long-hypothesized link between TCs and the large-scale oceanic–atmospheric state.
A significant poleward shift of tropical cyclones (TCs or typhoons) [Kossin et al. 2014; 2016] and TC-induced storm surge [Oey and Chou 2016] in the western North Pacific has occurred in recent decades. Here we use 64-year rainfall observations around Taiwan to provide an independent evidence of the shift. We show that due to the island's unique location relative to typhoon tracks [Sampe and Xie 2007], TC-induced rainfall trends are significantly rising west and north of the island, but are insignificant east and southeast, caused by a preference in recent decades for TCs to veer more poleward. Analyses of large-scale fields indicate that the TCs’ poleward shift is caused by the weakening of the steering flow and western North Pacific subtropical high, which in turn is due to tropic-subtropical Indo-Pacific warming and a weakened monsoon, consistent with the expansion of the tropics due to climate change [Fu et al. 2006; Loarie et al. 2009].
Tropical cyclone (TC) activity is influenced by environmental factors, and it is expected to respond to anthropogenic climate change. However, there is observational uncertainty in historical changes in TC activity, and attributing observed TC changes to anthropogenic forcing is challenging in the presence of internal climate variability. The sea surface temperature (SST) is a well-observed environmental factor that affects TC intensity and rainfall. Here we show that the SST at the time of TC genesis has a significant warming trend over the three decades of the satellite era. Though TCs are extreme events, the warming trend at TC genesis is comparable to the trend in SST during other tropical deep convection events and the trend in SST in the TC main development regions throughout the TC season. This newly documented, observed signature of climate change on TC activity is also present in high-resolution global atmospheric model simulations that explicitly simulate TCs.