Department of Environmental Sciences

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Seminar Abstracts
Environmental Sciences Seminar Abstract            

  Past and Future Changes of Atlantic Hurricane Activity
Gabriel A. Vecchi

The talk will explore the issues of hurricane activity change attribution, prediction and projection using both comprehensive, high-resolution global dynamical models and simple statistical models. Dynamical predictions and projections of hurricane activity changes are found to be critically sensitive to details in the horizontal structure of sea surface temperature (SST) changes and the vertical structure of atmospheric temperature changes - rather than the overall temperature change. The pattern of SST change provides a unifying statistical framework for seemingly divergent hurricane projections using dynamical models. The sensitivity of hurricane activity to details in the response of the climate system limit their predictability. Efforts are made to identify the most influential patterns of SST change, and connect these relevant patterns to forced and internal climate variations.

Recent increase in Atlantic TS and hurricanes can be forced by some estimates of historical SST changes, yet hindcasts of hurricane counts using comprehensive dynamical models are limited by the observational uncertainty in SST - even over the satellite era (1982-2007). Thus, in order to make accurate decadal predictions of hurricane activity changes, we may need to predict decadal patterns of SST change better than we currently observe them.

Last updated: 01/04/2011