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Tropical Cyclones Downscaled from Simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum

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Abstract

The tracks, intensities, and other properties of tropical cyclones downscaled from three models’ simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) are analyzed and compared to those of storms downscaled from simulations of the present climate. Globally, the mean maximum intensity of storms generated from each model is lower at LGM, as is the fraction of all storms that reach intensities of category 4 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The median day of the storm season shifts earlier by an average of one week in all three models in both hemispheres. Two of the three models’ LGM simulations feature a reduction in storm count and global power dissipation index compared to the current climate, but a third shows no significant difference between the two climates. Although each model is forced by the same global changes, differences in the way sea surface temperatures and other large-scale environmental conditions respond in the North Atlantic impart significant differences in the climatology at LGM between models. Our results from the cold LGM provide a novel opportunity to assess how tropical cyclones respond to climate changes.

Current affiliation: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Current affiliation: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Quinton A. Lawton, quinton.lawton@rsmas.miami.edu

Abstract

The tracks, intensities, and other properties of tropical cyclones downscaled from three models’ simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) are analyzed and compared to those of storms downscaled from simulations of the present climate. Globally, the mean maximum intensity of storms generated from each model is lower at LGM, as is the fraction of all storms that reach intensities of category 4 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The median day of the storm season shifts earlier by an average of one week in all three models in both hemispheres. Two of the three models’ LGM simulations feature a reduction in storm count and global power dissipation index compared to the current climate, but a third shows no significant difference between the two climates. Although each model is forced by the same global changes, differences in the way sea surface temperatures and other large-scale environmental conditions respond in the North Atlantic impart significant differences in the climatology at LGM between models. Our results from the cold LGM provide a novel opportunity to assess how tropical cyclones respond to climate changes.

Current affiliation: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Current affiliation: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Quinton A. Lawton, quinton.lawton@rsmas.miami.edu
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