Misuse of landfall as a proxy for Atlantic tropical cyclone activity



Recent studies [Solow and Moore, 2000; Landsea, 2007] have used an assumed constant ratio of landfalling cyclones to all tropical cyclones in the basin to assess potential trends and archive quality for basin-wide North Atlantic tropical cyclones. The underlying assumption is that landfalling storms have been well observed compared with storms over the ocean that do not make landfall. Thus, a trend toward decreasing ratios of landfalling storms is assumed to imply an increasing number of unobserved oceanic storms as we go back in time. The results from these studies depend entirely on the assumption that landfalling ratios are constant over long time periods; yet neither study addressed the veracity of this assumption.