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The response of land-falling tropical cyclone characteristics to projected climate change in northeast Australia

  • Chelsea L. Parker
  • Cindy L. Bruyère
  • Priscilla A. Mooney
  • Amanda H. Lynch
Article

Abstract

Land-falling tropical cyclones along the Queensland coastline can result in serious and widespread damage. However, the effects of climate change on cyclone characteristics such as intensity, trajectory, rainfall, and especially translation speed and size are not well-understood. This study explores the relative change in the characteristics of three case studies by comparing the simulated tropical cyclones under current climate conditions with simulations of the same systems under future climate conditions. Simulations are performed with the Weather Research and Forecasting Model and environmental conditions for the future climate are obtained from the Community Earth System Model using a pseudo global warming technique. Results demonstrate a consistent response of increasing intensity through reduced central pressure (by up to 11 hPa), increased wind speeds (by 5–10% on average), and increased rainfall (by up to 27% for average hourly rainfall rates). The responses of other characteristics were variable and governed by either the location and trajectory of the current climate cyclone or the change in the steering flow. The cyclone that traveled furthest poleward encountered a larger climate perturbation, resulting in a larger proportional increase in size, rainfall rate, and wind speeds. The projected monthly average change in the 500 mb winds with climate change governed the alteration in the both the trajectory and translation speed for each case. The simulated changes have serious implications for damage to coastal settlements, infrastructure, and ecosystems through increased wind speeds, storm surge, rainfall, and potentially increased size of some systems.

Keywords

Australia Tropical cyclones Climate change Weather research and forecasting model Pseudo global warming technique 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank James Done, and Greg Holland at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) for very helpful discussion of the results; Noel Davidson at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for the high-resolution ACCESS initialization data and advice; and Daniel P. Moriarty III at the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center for assistance in editing the manuscript. The authors would also like to thank the anonymous reviewer for their helpful insights, suggestions, and contributions that were instrumental for improving this study and paper. Computational work was supported by NCAR and the Yellowstone supercomputing facilities. This work was funded by Brown University and in part by NCAR summer visitor program. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary SciencesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Environmental Sciences and ManagementNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa
  5. 5.Uni Research ClimateBjerknes Centre for Climate ResearchBergenNorway

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