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Sixty-six Years of Tropical Cyclone Landfalls on Southeast Africa

Paper Reviewed
Fitchett, J.M. and Grab, S.W. 2014. A 66-year tropical cyclone record for south-east Africa: temporal trends in a global context. International Journal of Climatology 34: 3604-3615.

In introducing their analysis of this oft-studied subject, Fitchett and Grab (2014) write that "there has been considerable focus on the impact that climate change, and in particular the increase in sea surface temperatures, has had on the frequency of tropical cyclones making landfall over coastal regions," citing Goldenberg et al. (2001) and Mann and Emanuel (2006). And adding to this body of knowledge, they go on to investigate any changes that might have occurred in the frequency and timing of tropical cyclone landfalls over the southwest Indian Ocean during the last 66 years, which they do by analyzing three different storm track records spanning periods of 66-161 years.

The most important finding of the South African scientists was the fact that they did not find any "statistically significant trends in the frequency of tropical cyclone landfalls over Madagascar and Mozambique over the past six decades" (see figure below), even in spite of the "more comprehensive records during the most recent period." And giving a bit more context to this finding, they write that "the trend towards decreasing numbers of tropical cyclone landfalls over Madagascar (although not statistically significant) is consistent with historic records for the Australian region (i.e. the southwest Pacific and southeast Indian Oceans), and with projected decreases across the entire south Indian Ocean," citing Nicholls et al. (1998) and Sugi et al. (2002).

Figure 1. Tropical cyclone frequency of south-east Africa. Source: Fitchett and Grab (2014).

And so it would appear that another of the supposedly CO2-induced bad-news theories of the world's climate alarmists is once again found to be without merit when evaluated within the context of real-world data.

Goldenberg, S.B., Landsea, C.W., Mestas-Nunez, A.M. and Gray, W.M. 2001. The recent increase in Atlantic tropical cyclone activity: causes and implications. Science 293: 474-479.

Mann, M.E. and Emanuel, K.A. 2006. Atlantic tropical cyclone trends linked to climate change. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 87: 233-244.

Nicholls, N., Landsea, C. and Gill, J. 1998. Recent trends in Australian region tropical cyclone activity. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics 45: 167-205.

Sugi, N., Noda, A. and Sato, N. 2002. Influence of the global warming on tropical cyclone climatology: an experiment with the JMA Global Model. Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan 80: 249-272.

Posted 25 February 2015