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|On Weather as a Driver of Multidecadal Shifts in the Distribution of Tropical Cyclone Tracks
|This study investigates the roles of weather and climate variability in driving the observed increase in frequency and eastward shift in hurricane tracks over the past 50 years. A set of 8 ensemble members containing tropical cyclone tracks simulated over this period by the GFDL AM2.5-C360 model with identical climate conditions but varying weather was analyzed in conjunction with historical hurricane track observations. The eastward shift in tracks over this period was not robust across the ensemble members, indicating that it was primarily due to weather variability, but the increase in storm frequency was, indicating that it was modulated by climate. A statistical model was developed to simulate storm tracks based on genesis location and steering flow, and it was used to conduct experiments testing the roles of changing genesis location and changing steering flow in producing weather-driven shifts in storm tracks on multidecadal time scales. These experiments indicated that year-to-year shifts in genesis location, not steering flow, caused the weather-driven multidecadal shifts in the spatial distribution of tracks. We also apply a risk assessment model to estimate the upper bounds of the effect that weather-driven shifts in tracks could have on the economic impacts of hurricanes on multidecadal timescales. We conclude that randomness may have a bigger effect on the impacts of hurricanes than previously thought, due to the considerable amount of weather-driven variability in the spatial distribution of hurricane tracks. Additionally, understanding changes in genesis location is essential to understanding weather-driven variability in track location.
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