5C.8 Will Outer Tropical Cyclone Size Change due to Anthropogenic Warming?

Tuesday, 17 April 2018: 9:45 AM
Champions ABC (Sawgrass Marriott)
Benjamin A. Schenkel, Univ. of Oklahoma/NOAA, Norman, OK; and N. Lin, D. R. Chavas, G. A. Vecchi, T. R. Knutson, and M. Oppenheimer

Handout (13.0 MB)

Prior research has shown significant interbasin and intrabasin variability in outer tropical cyclone (TC) size. Moreover, outer TC size has even been shown to vary substantially over the lifetime of the majority of TCs. However, the factors responsible for both setting initial outer TC size and determining its evolution throughout the TC lifetime remain uncertain. Given these gaps in our physical understanding, there remains uncertainty in how outer TC size will change, if at all, due to anthropogenic warming. The present study seeks to quantify whether outer TC size will change significantly in response to anthropogenic warming using data from a high-resolution global climate model and a regional mesoscale hurricane model. Similar to prior work, the outer TC size metric used in this study is the radius in which the azimuthal-mean surface azimuthal wind equals 8 m/s.

The initial results from the high-resolution global climate model data suggest that the distribution of outer TC size shifts significantly towards larger values in each global TC basin during future climates, as revealed by 1) statistically significant increase of the median outer TC size by 5–10% (p<0.05) according to a 1,000-sample bootstrap resampling approach with replacement and 2) statistically significant differences between distributions of outer TC size from current and future climate simulations as shown using two-sample Kolmogorov Smirnov testing (p<<0.01). Additional analysis of the high-resolution global climate model data reveals that outer TC size does not uniformly increase within each basin in future climates, but rather shows substantial locational dependence. Future work will incorporate the regional mesoscale hurricane model data to help focus on identifying the source of the spatial variability in outer TC size increases within each basin during future climates and, more importantly, why outer TC size changes in response to anthropogenic warming.

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