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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • hurricanes;
  • global warming

[1] To help understand possible impacts of anthropogenic greenhouse warming on hurricane activity, we assess model-projected changes in large-scale environmental factors tied to variations in hurricane statistics. This study focuses on vertical wind shear (Vs) over the tropical Atlantic during hurricane season, the increase of which has been historically associated with diminished hurricane activity and intensity. A suite of state-of-the-art global climate model experiments is used to project changes in Vs over the 21st century. Substantial increases in tropical Atlantic and East Pacific shear are robust features of these experiments, and are shown to be connected to the model-projected decrease in the Pacific Walker circulation. The relative changes in shear are found to be comparable to those of other large-scale environmental parameters associated with Atlantic hurricane activity. The influence of these Vs changes should be incorporated into projections of long-term hurricane activity.