Past and Projected Changes in Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclone Exposure

Thursday, 21 April 2016: 2:45 PM
Ponce de Leon B (The Condado Hilton Plaza)
James P. Kossin, NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information, Madison, WI; and K. Emanuel and S. Camargo

The average latitude where tropical cyclones (TCs) reach their peak intensity has been observed to be shifting poleward in some regions over the past 30 years, apparently in concert with the independently observed expansion of the tropical belt. This poleward migration is particularly well-observed and robust in the western North Pacific Ocean (WNP). Such a migration is expected to cause systematic changes, both increases and decreases, in regional hazard exposure and human mortality risk, particularly if it persists through the present century. Here we will show that the past poleward migration in the WNP has coincided with decreased TC exposure in the region of the Philippine and South China Seas, including the Marianas and Philippines, Vietnam, and Southern China, and increased exposure in the region of the East China Sea, including Japan and the Ryukyu Islands, Korea, and parts of eastern China. Additionally, we show that projections of WNP TCs simulated by, and downscaled from, an ensemble of numerical Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models, demonstrate a continuing poleward migration into the present century following the emissions projections of the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5). The projected migration causes a shift in regional TC exposure that is very similar in pattern and relative amplitude to the past observed shift. In terms of regional differences in vulnerability and resilience based on past TC exposure, the potential ramifications of these future changes are significant. Questions of attribution for the changes are discussed in terms of tropical belt expansion and Pacific decadal sea surface temperature variability.
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