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Hurricane Surge Risk in Northwest Florida, USA

Paper Reviewed
Lin, N., Lane, P., Emanuel, K.A., Sullivan, R.M. and Donnelly, J.P. 2014. Heightened hurricane surge risk in northwest Florida revealed from climatological-hydrodynamic modeling and paleo-record reconstruction. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 119: 8606-8623.

Writing in the Atmospheres section of the Journal of Geophysical Research, Lin et al. (2014) indicate that the most fatal and destructive aspect of tropical cyclones or TCs is the storm surge that accompanies them; and they therefore go on to review what has been learned about this subject over the past couple of decades by other scientists, as well as what they learned as it pertains to northwest Florida's (USA) Apalachee Bay.

The five researchers begin by noting that "as a way to extend the hurricane/typhoon records to prehistory, paleo-hurricane research has emerged as a promising tool for reconstructing long-term TC activity;" and they further state, in this regard, that "identifying and dating TC-related deposits in coastal environments makes it possible to estimate the frequencies of intense TCs at a site and determine how they may have evolved over thousands of years," citing in support of this statement the findings of Liu and Fearn (1993, 2000), Donnelly et al. (2001a, 2001b), Donnelly and Woodruff (2007), Donnelly and Giosan (2008), Boldt et al. (2010) and Brandon et al. (2013).

As a result of what they learned by applying this approach at Apalachee Bay, and in what may be considered to be a strong refutation of the climate-alarmist contention that all types of extreme weather events are becoming ever more frequent and powerful due to anthropogenic-induced increases in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration, Lin et al. state that their findings suggest that "in comparison to the last several millennia, the historical interval of the last few hundred years has been anomalously quiescent with respect to the most extreme hurricane-induced inundation events." More specifically, they report that whereas the mean return period of surges greater than five meters is about 400 years based on what can be learned from historical records, it is only a mere 40 years based on paleo-reconstructions, which is essentially just the opposite - and by a full order of magnitude - of what we typically hear from those who preach that climatic salvation resides in our dramatically curtailing our usage of fossil fuels.

References
Boldt, K.V., Lane, P., Woodruff, J.D. and Donnelly, J.P. 2010. Calibrating a sedimentary record of overwash from Southeastern New England using modeled historic hurricane surges. Marine Geology 275: 127-139.

Brandon, C.M., Woodruff, J.D., Lane, D. and Donnelly, J. P. 2013. Tropical cyclone wind speed constraints from resultant storm surge deposition: A 2500-year reconstruction of hurricane activity from St. Marks, FL. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14: 2993-3008.

Donnelly, J.P., Bryant, S.S., Butler, J., Dowling, J., Fan, L., Hausmann, N., Newby, P., Shuman, B., Stern, J., Westover, K., and Webb, T. 2001b. 700 yr sedimentary record of intense hurricane landfalls in Southern New England. Geological Society of America Bulletin 113: 714-727.

Donnelly, J.P. and Giosan, L. 2008. Tempestuous highs and lows in the Gulf of Mexico. Geology 36: 751-752.

Donnelly, J.P., Roll, S. Wengren, M., Butler, J., Lederer, R. and Webb, T. 2001a. Sedimentary evidence of intense hurricane strikes from New Jersey. Geology 29: 615-618.

Donnelly, J.P. and Woodruff, J.D. 2007. Intense hurricane activity over the past 5,000 years controlled by El Niņo and the West African monsoon. Nature 447: 465-468.

Posted 16 December 2014