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Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923," by Aslak Grinsted, John C. Moore & Svetlana Jevrejeva, PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209542109

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (2012); doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209542109

Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923

Aslak Grinsteda,1,2, John C. Moorea,b,c, and Svetlana Jevrejevaa,d

aState Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
bArctic Centre, University of Lapland, FI-96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
cDepartment of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, SE-75236 Uppsala,Sweden
dNational Oceanography Centre, Liverpool L3 5DA, U.K.

Edited by Kerry A. Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and approved August 31, 2012 (received for review June 7, 2012).


Detection and attribution of past changes in cyclone activity are hampered by biased cyclone records due to changes in observational capabilities. Here we construct an independent record of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity on the basis of storm surge statistics from tide gauges. We demonstrate that the major events in our surge index record can be attributed to landfalling tropical cyclones; these events also correspond with the most economically damaging Atlantic cyclones. We find that warm years in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years. The largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923. In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years (P < 0.02).

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