Thursday, June 2, 2011

Missing News: North Atlantic storm frequency spurious

ABC thus far have not reported on a recent study by Gabriele Villarini, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Thomas R. Knutson and James A. Smith recently published in the JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. The study asked the question "Is the recorded increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms spurious?". The authors found the answer is: yes.

Here's the abstract:
The number of North Atlantic tropical storms lasting 2 days or less exhibits a large increase starting from the middle of the 20th century, driving the increase in recorded number of tropical storms over the past century. Here we present a set of quantitative analyses to assess whether this behavior is more likely associated with climate variability/change or with changes in observing systems. By using statistical methods combined with the current understanding of the physical processes, we are unable to find support for the hypothesis that the century-scale record of short-lived tropical cyclones in the Atlantic contains a detectable real climate signal. Therefore, we interpret the long-term secular increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms as likely to be substantially inflated by observing system changes over time. These results strongly suggest that studies examining the frequency of North Atlantic tropical storms over the historical era (between the 19th century and present) should focus on storms of duration greater than about 2 days.

ABC have previously shown an interest in studies looking at North Atlantic Storms (HERE and HERE) so we look forward to their coverage of this story that debunks much said on the ABC about the relationship between NA storm frequency and climate change.

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