finding 2.8 : hurricane-storm-intensity-increases

The intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s. The relative contributions of human and natural causes to these increases are still uncertain. Hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.



This finding is from chapter 2 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: Development of the key messages involved discussions of the lead authors and accompanying analyses conducted via one in-person meeting plus multiple teleconferences and email exchanges from February thru September 2012. The authors reviewed 80 technical inputs provided by the public, as well as other published literature, and applied their professional judgment. Key message development also involved the findings from four special workshops that related to the latest scientific understanding of climate extremes. Each workshop had a different theme related to climate extremes, had approximately 30 attendees (the CMIP5 meeting had more than 100), and the workshops resulted in a paper.b91893b4-24a8-46ba-b09a-013d462caf1b The first workshop was held in July 2011, titled Monitoring Changes in Extreme Storm Statistics: State of Knowledge.b37557ac-ee97-4c28-98ca-4f1f1afe163b The second was held in November 2011, titled Forum on Trends and Causes of Observed Changes in Heatwaves, Coldwaves, Floods, and Drought.e15600d0-290f-44e2-9b58-9ffd295ee6d2 The third was held in January 2012, titled Forum on Trends in Extreme Winds, Waves, and Extratropical Storms along the Coasts.596a7f1e-6ce5-4bdf-b144-d0715a7567bd The fourth, the CMIP5 results workshop, was held in March 2012 in Hawai‘i, and resulted in an analysis of CMIP5 results relative to climate extremes in the United States.b91893b4-24a8-46ba-b09a-013d462caf1b The Chapter Author Team’s discussions were supported by targeted consultation with additional experts. Professional expertise and judgment led to determining “key vulnerabilities.” A consensus-based approach was used for final key message selection.

Description of evidence base: The key message and supporting text summarize extensive evidence documented in the climate science peer-reviewed literature. Technical Input reports (82) on a wide range of topics were also reviewed; they were received as part of the Federal Register Notice solicitation for public input. Recent studies suggest that the most intense Atlantic hurricanes have become stronger since the early 1980s.6d2920f6-f06d-41fd-83e7-1fd61c40ae49 While this is still the subject of active research, this trend is projected to continue.d6bd92ad-67ef-4df7-aca9-68944523e863 5138b20c-7049-433e-a1ec-24417cccd3c2

New information and remaining uncertainties: Detecting trends in Atlantic and eastern North Pacific hurricane activity is challenged by a lack of consistent historical data and limited understanding of all of the complex interactions between the atmosphere and ocean that influence hurricanes.1986a492-151d-4e71-a664-0ce152632cf1 12895289-04f3-4cf7-9a2d-2230f5cb21e3 233e8851-d7a3-443c-a73d-7c7ba17dcaec While the best analyses to date1986a492-151d-4e71-a664-0ce152632cf1 5138b20c-7049-433e-a1ec-24417cccd3c2 suggest an increase in intensity and in the number of the most intense hurricanes over this century, there remain significant uncertainties.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Given the evidence base and remaining uncertainties: High confidence that the intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes, have increased substantially since the early 1980s. Low confidence in relative contributions of human and natural causes in the increases. Medium confidence that hurricane intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.

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