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Influence of climate regime shift on the interdecadal change in tropical cyclone activity over the Pacific Basin during the middle to late 1990s

Abstract

In this study, a new interpretation is proposed for the abrupt decrease in tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the western North Pacific (WNP) after the late 1990s. We hypothesize that this abrupt change constitutes a part of the phenomenon of interdecadal change in TC activity in the Pacific Basin, including the WNP, western South Pacific (WSP), and eastern North Pacific. Our analysis revealed that the climate-regime shift (CRS) in the Pacific during the middle to late 1990s resulted in a La Niña-like mean state, which was responsible for the interdecadal change in TC activity in the late 1990s. Analyses of the TC genesis potential index and numerical experiments revealed that the decline in TC activity in both the WNP and WSP was primarily attributable to the increase of vertical wind shear in the central Pacific due to the La Niña-like associated cold sea surface temperature (SST). Conversely, the La Niña-like associated warm SST in the western Pacific produced anomalous vertical transport of water vapor, increasing moisture levels in the mid-troposphere and TC activity in the western WNP. Furthermore, the CRS modified the mean TC genesis position and shifted the steering flow to the west, resulting in the increased frequency of TC landfalls in Taiwan, southeastern China, and northern Australia after the late 1990s.

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Acknowledgments

Valuable suggestions of two reviewers are highly appreciated. This study was supported by NSC 102-2111-M845-002 and NSC 103-2111-M845-002. TL acknowledges support by 973 project 2015CB453200, 2014SCT001. This is SOEST Contribution Number 9567 and IPRC Contribution Number 1167. The authors thank the ICTP group for providing the SPEDDY model.

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Correspondence to Chi-Cherng Hong.

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Hong, CC., Wu, YK. & Li, T. Influence of climate regime shift on the interdecadal change in tropical cyclone activity over the Pacific Basin during the middle to late 1990s. Clim Dyn 47, 2587–2600 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-016-2986-x

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Keywords

  • Climate regime shift
  • Interdecadal change
  • Tropical cyclone activity
  • Pacific Basin