64 Increasing Magnitude of Hurricane Rapid Intensification in the Central-eastern Atlantic over the Past 30 Years

Tuesday, 17 April 2018
Champions DEFGH (Sawgrass Marriott)
Gregory R. Foltz, NOAA/AOML, Miami, FL; and K. Balaguru and L. R. Leung

During the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, several hurricanes underwent rapid intensification (RI) in the central-eastern Atlantic. This motivates an analysis of trends in the strength of hurricane RI during the 30-year post-satellite period of 1986-2015. Our results show that in the eastern tropical Atlantic, to the east of 60W, the mean RI magnitude averaged during 2001-2015 was 3.8 kt per 24 hr higher than during 1986-2000. However, in the western tropical Atlantic, to the west of 60W, changes in RI magnitude over the same period were not statistically significant. We examined the large-scale environment to understand the causes behind these changes in RI magnitude and found that various oceanic and atmospheric parameters that play an important role in RI changed favorably in the eastern tropical Atlantic. More specifically, changes in sea surface temperature (SST), Potential Intensity, upper-ocean heat content, wind shear, relative humidity and upper-level divergence enhanced the ability for hurricanes to undergo RI in the eastern tropical Atlantic. In contrast, changes in the same factors are inconsistent in the western tropical Atlantic. While changes in SST and Potential Intensity were positive, changes in upper-ocean heat content, wind shear and upper-level divergence were either insignificant or unfavorable for RI. Finally, we examined the potential role of various climate phenomena, which are well-known to impact Atlantic hurricane activity, in causing the changes in the large-scale environment. Our analysis reveals that changes in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation over the 30-year period are predominantly responsible. These results provide important aspects of the large-scale context to understand the Atlantic hurricane season of 2017.
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