6D.1 Climate Change and the Hurricanes of 2017

Tuesday, 17 April 2018: 10:30 AM
Heritage Ballroom (Sawgrass Marriott)
Kerry Emanuel, MIT, Cambridge, MA

The severity and destructiveness of the Atlantic hurricanes of the 2017 season has renewed interest in and concern about the effect of climate change on hurricane activity. But in terms of the long-term record of tropical cyclone activity, a single season hardly alters what conclusions can be drawn from the observed record alone. Yet these storms inspire focused questions about how the underlying probabilities of events such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Ophelia may have evolved in recent decades, and how they might continue to evolve as the world warms. In this talk, I will present estimates, based on large collections of tropical cyclone events generated by the MIT tropical cyclone simulator, of how the probabilities of certain occurrences may be changing. These include storm total rainfall of Harvey’s magnitude in Houston and in the whole state of Texas, peak winds of Hurricane Irma and Maria in the northeast Caribbean region, and winds along the Irish west coast from post-tropical storms like Ophelia.
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