137 Assessment of the Effect of Climate Change on Florida's Future Hurricane Event Risk

Monday, 7 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Michelle Ruiz, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Hurricanes are a threat to states along the eastern coast of the United States as well as along the Gulf of Mexico. An increase in frequency and intensity of hurricanes is a possible and dangerous consequence of future climate change. To assess the threat of more frequent and intense hurricanes, this research will address how climate change will affect future hurricane activity in Florida. A greater understanding of how climate change will affect hurricanes is vital for regions, such as Florida, that are vulnerable to these powerful storms.

Hurricane return periods were calculated for all Florida counties based on 1900-2010. Hurricane landfalls were quantified by using a dynamic wind model which allowed for the spatial extent of each storm to be examined. A meta-analysis of the existing literature on the effect of climate change on hurricane behavior was performed. Using the findings from the meta-analysis, a sensitivity analysis was performed to quantify how climate change will influence future hurricane event risk in Florida. HAZUS-MH was used to estimate losses and damage from hurricane winds based on Florida's growing population and increasing coastal development. Future climate change is expected to result in a decrease in hurricane frequency, but increased hurricane intensity. Based on the findings from the sensitivity analysis, the southeastern coast of Florida has the highest risk of future hurricane landfalls.

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