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Keywords:

  • tropical cyclone;
  • best tracks;
  • data rescue;
  • southwest Pacific;
  • IBTrACS;
  • visualisation tools;
  • GoogleEarth®

Abstract

The ecosystems and economies of small island nation states and territories of the tropical southwest Pacific region are widely agreed to be among the most vulnerable to climate variability and weather extremes anywhere in the world. Tropical Cyclones (TCs) are capable of exacerbating existing hazards and those made more severe by climate change (e.g. local sea level rise). In order to properly understand TC impacts in this region, a comprehensive database of TC tracks is required. This work has collated TC best track data from forecast centres around the globe with the aim of producing a unified global best TC track dataset for the historical period. Data from the International Best Tracks for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) project information for the southwest Pacific (135°E–120°W, 5°–25°S) is built upon and included in this effort. We document the construction of an enhanced TC database for the southwest Pacific, the quality controls needed to construct the database, and discuss how it has enhanced the chronology of region-wide historical TC activity in light of newly discovered data. We suggest this enhanced dataset can be used in forthcoming climate and weather studies to better characterize the climatology and behaviour of TCs in the southwest Pacific. Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society