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Tropical Cyclones Downscaled from Simulations with Very High Carbon Dioxide Levels

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  • 1 Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  • | 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • | 3 Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire
  • | 4 Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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Abstract

A method to simulate thousands of tropical cyclones using output from a global climate model is applied to simulations that span very high surface temperatures forced with high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). The climatology of the storms downscaled from a simulation with modern-day conditions is compared to that of events downscaled from two other simulations featuring 8 and 32 times preindustrial-era levels of CO2. Storms shift poleward with warming: genesis locations and track densities increase in subtropical and higher latitudes, and power dissipation increases poleward of 20°S and 30°N. The average latitude at which storms reach their maximum intensity shifts poleward by more than 1.5° latitude in the 8 × CO2 experiment and by more than 7° latitude in the 32 × CO2 case. Storms live longer and are more numerous in both of the warmer climates. These increases come largely from an expansion of the area featuring favorable conditions into subtropics and midlatitudes, with some regions of the Arctic having the thermodynamic conditions necessary to sustain systems in the hottest case. Storms of category 5 intensity are 52% more frequent in the 8 × CO2 experiment but 40% less so in the 32 × CO2 case, largely owing to a substantial decline in low-latitude activity associated with increases in a normalized measure of wind shear called the ventilation index. Changes in genesis and track densities align well with differences in the ventilation index, and environmental conditions become substantially more favorable poleward of about 20° latitude in the warmer climates.

Current affiliation: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Corresponding author e-mail: Robert L. Korty, korty@tamu.edu

Abstract

A method to simulate thousands of tropical cyclones using output from a global climate model is applied to simulations that span very high surface temperatures forced with high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). The climatology of the storms downscaled from a simulation with modern-day conditions is compared to that of events downscaled from two other simulations featuring 8 and 32 times preindustrial-era levels of CO2. Storms shift poleward with warming: genesis locations and track densities increase in subtropical and higher latitudes, and power dissipation increases poleward of 20°S and 30°N. The average latitude at which storms reach their maximum intensity shifts poleward by more than 1.5° latitude in the 8 × CO2 experiment and by more than 7° latitude in the 32 × CO2 case. Storms live longer and are more numerous in both of the warmer climates. These increases come largely from an expansion of the area featuring favorable conditions into subtropics and midlatitudes, with some regions of the Arctic having the thermodynamic conditions necessary to sustain systems in the hottest case. Storms of category 5 intensity are 52% more frequent in the 8 × CO2 experiment but 40% less so in the 32 × CO2 case, largely owing to a substantial decline in low-latitude activity associated with increases in a normalized measure of wind shear called the ventilation index. Changes in genesis and track densities align well with differences in the ventilation index, and environmental conditions become substantially more favorable poleward of about 20° latitude in the warmer climates.

Current affiliation: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Corresponding author e-mail: Robert L. Korty, korty@tamu.edu
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