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Some Like It Hot! ... But Not, Apparently, Atlantic Hurricanes

Paper Reviewed
Burn, M.J. and Palmer, S.E. 2015. Atlantic hurricane activity during the last millennium. Scientific Reports 5: 10.1038/srep12838.

In a recent issue of Scientific Reports, Burn and Palmer (2015) write that "the attribution of hurricane activity to specific forcing factors is hampered by the short observational record of Atlantic storms." And, therefore, they went on to develop what they christened the Extended Hurricane Activity (EHA) index, which they described as "the first empirical reconstruction of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity for the last millennium," which they had in turn derived from "a high-resolution lake sediment geochemical record from Jamaica," and by demonstrating that the EHA index "correlates significantly with decadal changes in tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs; r = 0.68; 1854-2008), the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index (ACE; r = 0.90; 1851-2010), and two annually-resolved coral-based SST reconstructions (1773-2008) from within the MDR," which is the Main Development Region of Atlantic tropical cyclones.

This work revealed, as the two researchers went on to discover, that contemporary hurricane activity "has not exceeded the range of natural climate variability exhibited during the last millennium." More specifically, they say they discovered that "average Caribbean-wide storm activity during the Medieval Climate Anomaly -- also known as the Medieval Warm Period -- "was lower than that of the Little Ice Age and the 20th Century average," returning, as it were, to "a more subdued state during the late industrial period (1950-2100)," all of which findings raise the possibility, as they note, that were there to be a warmer mean climate throughout the remainder of the 21st Century, any hurricanes that might form during this period "may become more subdued."

Posted 24 November 2015