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The sensitivity of hurricane frequency to ITCZ changes and radiatively forced warming in aquaplanet simulations

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Abstract

[1] The response of hurricane frequency to climate changes in an aquaplanet configuration of a 50-km resolution atmospheric general circulation model is examined. The lower boundary condition is an energetically consistent slab ocean with a prescribed cross-equatorial ocean heat flux, which breaks the hemispheric symmetry and moves the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) off the equator. In this idealized configuration, hurricane frequency increases in response to radiatively forced warming. The ITCZ shifts poleward when the model is warmed with fixed cross-equatorial ocean heat flux, and it is argued that the increase in hurricane frequency results from this poleward shift. Varying the imposed cross-equatorial ocean heat flux amplitude with fixed radiative forcing can isolate the effect of ITCZ shifts. If an increase in radiative forcing is accompanied by a reduction in the ocean heat flux amplitude such that the position of the ITCZ is unchanged, the simulated hurricane frequency decreases under warmed conditions.

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