Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stronger but fewer cyclones for Australia says CSIRO scientist

Takver in (Australia): New research by CSIRO scientists is showing a trend for fewer tropical cyclones forming off the Western Australian coast, but those that do form may become more intense and potentially destructive. The results apply across the Australian region according to CSIRO in an interview with Dr Debbie Abbs from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.

Dr Debbie Abbs said there could be a 50 percent reduction in the number of storms in the second half of this century - from 2051-2090 - compared to the period from 1971-2000. The climate model developed by Dr Abbs' team also indicates a distinct shift towards more destructive storms. "Despite a decrease in the number of tropical cyclones, there is a greater risk that a tropical cyclone that forms will be more severe in future," Dr Abbs said. "Even a small increase in cyclone intensity is concerning because of the threat to life, property, industry and agriculture," said Dr Abbs in a CSIRO media release.

The research work is being done on behalf of the Indian Ocean Climate Initiative (IOCI) which is a strategic research partnership between the WA government, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.

...It was once thought that elevated sea surface temperatures alone would increase cyclone frequency, but this has proved not to be the case. "In the early days of climate research we thought that increase in sea surface temperatures would result in more tropical cyclones. However in the world that we live in today cyclones are due to more than just high sea surface temperatures." said Dr Debbie Abbs from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.

"If we get changes in either the wind shear or in the temperature and humidity characteristics of the atmosphere, then that will affect the ability of the atmosphere to form tropical cyclones, and we find that is happening, but the relative contributions are still under investigation. Some of our climate models say that it's the shear is the most important, and other climate models say it's the temperature and humidity characteristics that are the most important." said Dr Abbs....

Tropical cyclone Charlotte hitting Australia in January, 2009, via NASA

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