Willis Research Sees Fewer, but Stronger, Hurricanes in Future Years

August 31, 2012

New research from the Willis Research Network (WRN) addresses scientific forecasts that “global warming is likely to lead to stronger tropical cyclones, but also that the overall global frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes is likely to decrease.”

WRN’s report indicates that “the overall damage caused by the fewer, but stronger, Atlantic hurricanes of the coming century may remain similar to the damage of the more frequent, weaker storms of the 20th century.”

The conclusions are the product of “high-resolution climate models, which run on lots of very high powered computers, to capture atmospheric phenomena and emulate the physical processes that underlie storm formation,” WRN said.

The report explains that the “strength of a given hurricane is measured by its maximum sustained wind speed.” But it also poses the question as to “what’s the best way to measure the strength of a whole hurricane season? It’s important to take into account the number of storms, the strength of those storms, and also how long the storms persist.”

WRN explained that “a standard metric used to do this is the Power Dissipation Index (PDI), which depends on the cube of maximum sustained wind speeds, accumulated over the lifetimes of all tropical storms and hurricanes in a season.”

There are several methods for calculating the possibilities, and predictive models are constructed from a combination of the methods available. Doing so requires a great deal of data input and computer time to determine the best calculations. WRN pointed out that “given sufficient computing resources, the models can simulate many hundreds of future years under various climate assumptions.

“This provides scientists with many more simulated years of data than the actual number of years in the historical record. Of course, the simulated data are only as good as the models.”

Source: Willis Research Network

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