Intense Tropical Cyclones in a Warming World
Chan, J.C.L. 2009. Thermodynamic control on the climate of intense tropical cyclones. Proceedings of the Royal Society A 465: 3011-3021.
Focusing on five ocean basins - the Atlantic (1960-2007), the Western North Pacific (1960-2007), the Eastern North Pacific (1960-2007), the South Indian Ocean (1981-2007), and the South Pacific (1981-2007) - the author examined the relationship between the seasonally averaged maximum potential intensity (MPI, an index of thermodynamic forcing) over each basin where tropical cyclones (TCs) typically form and the seasonal frequency of occurrence of intense TCs. So what did he find?
Chan determined that "only in the Atlantic does the MPI have a statistically significant relationship with the number of intense TCs, explaining about 40% of the [observed] variance," while "in other ocean basins, there is either no correlation or the correlation is not significant." Given these findings, the People's Republic of China's researcher states that "even in the Atlantic, where a significant correlation between the thermodynamic [temperature related] factors and the frequency of intense TCs exists, it is not clear whether global warming will produce a net increase in such a frequency, because model projections suggest an increase in vertical wind shear associated with an increase in sea surface temperature," which phenomenon tends to work against intense TC development. Hence, he concludes that "it remains uncertain whether the frequency of occurrence of intense TCs will increase under a global warming scenario."