Monday, February 18, 2008

Tropical cyclone history - part I: How reliable are past hurricane records?

Clear the decks, have some caffeine, prepare yourself to absorb scientific information. Real Climate has a summary of recent history about tropical cyclones. They discuss the data issues that with the start of aircraft monintoring of hurricanes in 1944 and satellite coverage since 1966.

As always, well worth a look: ...In addition, there are also a number of gradual observational improvements over time, e.g. the increasing quality of satellite images, or in earlier times the increase of the number of ship tracks or the growing population density on the coastlines, both of which enhance the probability that a TC would have been observed. And last but not least, there might be inhomogeneities due to the subjective component in the classification of tropical storms (the so-called Dvorak method, Dvorak 1984) which might lead to systematic differences between different forecasters. However, the homogeneous reanalysis of the last 23 years has shown that this subjectivity and improved observations has not lead to a noticeable alteration of the long-term trend for Atlantic storms (Kossin et al. 2007)....

Hurricane Katrina by NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Visualization Studio, Wikimedia Commons

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