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Tropical Cyclone tracks in present and future climates

Due to the large social and economic impacts of tropical cyclones, it is fundamental to understand possible changes in tropical cyclone activity due to climate change. In this project we will focus on how tropical cyclone tracks could be influenced by climate change, especially due to the most robust projected changes in the tropical circulation. Tropical cyclone tracks strongly influence many tropical cyclone properties – including intensity and landfall frequency and location – which are of great importance to local populations. We will study changes in tropical cyclone tracks due to both natural variability and anthropogenically forced trends. As part of our analysis we will apply a cluster technique that we have previously applied to observed tropical cyclone tracks in different regions of the world, and that has given important insights on the different properties of tracks in different cluster types: e.g. seasonality, genesis location, intensity, landfalling rates and locations.

Our first approach will be to examine tracks of tropical cyclones in global and regional climate models under present and future climate scenarios. We will apply the same cluster technique to identify tropical cyclone track changes in future climate scenarios and the large-scale circulation associated with those changes. The analysis will be performed using output from many models, to assess the robustness of these track changes as well as the relevant dynamics.

The second approach is to examine synthetic tropical cyclone tracks generated by a statistical dynamical as well as a purely statistical approach. These tracks will be associated with current and future climate scenarios. We will then compare the cluster analysis of synthetic tracks to that of the dynamical models’ tracks. By using two distinct approaches, we will be able to make a detailed assessment of the robustness of the possible track changes in future climate. The long term objective of this project is to build a scientific foundation for future projections of tropical cyclone landfall change associated with climate change.

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