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Cyclones of the Tropical South Pacific
Terry, J.P. and Gienko, G. 2010. Climatological aspects of South Pacific tropical cyclones, based on analysis of the RSMC-Nadi (Fiji) regional archive. Climate Research 42: 223-233.

"In terms of both numbers of people affected and overall financial costs," according to Terry and Gienko, "cyclones remain the most destructive natural hazard in the tropical South Pacific," where they say they "pose an annual threat to the livelihoods of populations inhabiting the scattered nations of Oceania and regularly affect the sustainability of their small-island economies."

What was done
The authors analyzed various cyclone characteristics based on four decades of cyclone season data (1969-70 to 2007-08) contained in the regional cyclone archive of the tropical South Pacific (160°E-120°W, 0°-25°S) that is maintained by the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) located at Nadi in the Fiji Islands.

What was learned
Terry and Gienko state that "no linear trends were revealed in cyclogenesis origins, cyclone duration, track length or track azimuth over the four decades of records," but they report that "anomalous activity for one or more cyclone parameters occurred in 1976, 1981, 1983, 1991, 1998, 2001-2002 and 2003."

What it means
In discussing the first of these findings, the two researchers say that the lack of linear trends in the four cyclone parameters they analyzed "implies that there is as yet no evidence for climate-change forcing of these storm characteristics over recent historical times." And in discussing the additional implications of the hit-and-miss record of anomalous cyclone activity, they write that "South Pacific island nations will remain most vulnerable to episodes of anomalous cyclone behavior, and that such deviations away from average conditions are likely to continue to be experienced at irregular intervals on an inter-annual basis." Last of all, and "most importantly," as they continue, Terry and Gienko conclude that "this variability will remain much more of an influence across the tropical South Pacific region than any small changes linked to long-term trends in cyclone behavior," of which latter trends, so far, there are none.

Reviewed 23 February 2011