Climate-Induced Variations in Mean Annual Tropical Cyclone Size in the Atlantic


The size of a tropical cyclone (TC) influences its destructive potential because storm surge and inland flooding tend to increase as TC size increases. The ability to understand and predict the destructive potential of future TCs is important to estimate the impact that future changes in hurricane winds and surge will have on electrical infrastructure in the United States. A Texas A&M University team led by DOE scientist Steven Quiring studied the relationship between TC size and various environmental and storm-related characteristics in the Atlantic basin. They developed a series of basin-specific models of TC size (e.g., Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and North Atlantic) to account for annual TC size variations between Atlantic sub-basins. The models reveal that maximum tangential wind is the most important variable for explaining variations in mean annual TC size while environmental factors such as sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, and mid-Pacific Niño Region 3.4 play a secondary role in modulating mean annual TC size. Future hurricane risk will be established using a series of models that account for changes in TC frequency, intensity, and size.


Quiring, S., A. Schumacher, C. Labosier, and L. Zhu. 2011. “Variations in Mean Annual Tropical Cyclone Size in the Atlantic,” Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, doi:10.1029/2010JD015011.