EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

An Environmental Explanation for the Recent Increase in Tropical Cyclone Intensification

Kieran Bhatia1, Alex Baker2, Gabriel Vecchi3, Hiroyuki Murakami4,6, James Kossin5, Pier Luigi Vidale2, Kevin Hodges2, and Thomas Knutson4
Kieran Bhatia et al.
  • 1BP , Environmental Technology, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, UK
  • 3Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 4National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 5NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Center for Weather and Climate, Madison, WI, USA
  • 6Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS), University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

Tropical cyclone (TC) rapid intensification events are responsible for intensity forecasts with the highest errors, and hurricanes that rapidly intensify cause a disproportionate amount of the fatalities and damage from TCs. According to a recent study by Bhatia et al. (2019), natural variability cannot account for the recent (1982-2009), observed increase in the highest TC intensification rates in the Atlantic Basin. These results agree well with the main conclusions of Bhatia et al. (2018), which demonstrated climate change could significantly increase TC intensification rates worldwide by the end of 21st century.

Expanding on the work of Bhatia et al. (2018, 2019), TC intensification trends are analyzed for the period 1982-2017 using two observational datasets, the International Best-Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) and the Advanced Dvorak Technique-HurricaneSatellite-B1 (ADT-HURSAT). The extended observational datasets confirm significant upward trends in intensifications metrics. To explore a physical explanation for the climate change response of TC intensification, we use ERA5 reanalysis data to calculate trends in the favorability of storm environments. When evaluating environmental data, we use 6-hour increments at specific annuli around already-formed storms in order to focus on synoptic conditions unique to storm evolution and not genesis. The robust trends in a 36-year times series and corresponding evolution of storm environments corroborates a climate change fingerprint on TC intensification.

How to cite: Bhatia, K., Baker, A., Vecchi, G., Murakami, H., Kossin, J., Vidale, P. L., Hodges, K., and Knutson, T.: An Environmental Explanation for the Recent Increase in Tropical Cyclone Intensification, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18644,, 2020


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