A Global Investigation of the Impacts of Landfalling Tropical Cyclones on Societies

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Denise L. Balukas, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and E. A. Ritchie and K. M. Wood

A Global Investigation of the Impacts of Landfalling Tropical Cyclones on Societies by Denise Balukas, Elizabeth A. Ritchie, and Kim M. Wood

An abstract submitted to the American Meteorological Society's Student Conference, January 2015.

Landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) result in much devastation and numerous fatalities around the world each and every year. The impacts of TC landfall to specific communities and societal groups vary widely. These variations in impacts are due not only to the strength and intensity of the TC at landfall, but also to a given society's vulnerability and resiliency to these stresses at the time of the TC event. Societies have various levels of vulnerability to TC landfall based on many factors including education, preparedness, personal history with previous events, and governmental infrastructure, to name but a few.

This research seeks to gain insight into the impacts of landfalling TCs from a global perspective. Using a decade of International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) data (2002-2012), landfalling TCs will be categorized as severe and non-severe based on intensity at landfall. The frequency of landfalling TCs will also be assessed and categorized for each geographic location within each of the seven basins to determine vulnerability due to landfall frequency. Several TCs in a range of basins have been chosen for more detailed case studies, in part because of the availability of data for the TC, but also the availability of data relating to the societal, demographic and infrastructure within the region. For these events, a comprehensive analysis of storm track, intensity at landfall, and impacts will be performed. Using both socio-economic and geographic data from sources including, but not limited to EM-DAT (the Emergency Events Database), the United States Storm and Hazard Database, World Bank, SHELDUS (Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Database for the United States), we will quantify the level of vulnerability and resiliency of each impacted region with the goal of addressing the ‘ground truth' of both long and short term impacts experienced by regions affected by TCs. Using socio-economic data in concert with physical storm parameters will allow for a more robust understanding of the ramifications of landfalling TCs.