Will greenhouse gas-induced warming over the next 50 years lead to higher frequency and greater intensity of hurricanes?



The use of a high resolution atmospheric model at T106 resolution, for studying the influence of greenhouse warming on tropical storm climatology, is investigated. The same method for identifying the storms has been used as in a previous study by Bengtsson et al. The sea surface temperature anomalies have been taken from a previous transient climate change experiment, obtained with a low resolution ocean-atmosphere coupled model. The global distribution of the storms, at the time when the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere had doubled, agrees in geographical position and seasonal variability with that of the present climate, but the number of storms is significantly reduced, particularly at the Southern Hemisphere. The main reason to this, appear to be connected to changes in the large scale circulation, such as a weaker Hadley circulation and stronger upper air westerlies. The low level vorticity in the hurricane genesis regions is generally reduced compared to the present climate, while the vertical tropospheric wind shear is somewhat increased. Most tropical storm regions indicate reduced surface windspeeds and a slightly weaker hydrological cycle.