Testing the Performance of Tropical Cyclone Genesis Indices in Future Climates Using the HiRAM Model

Camargo, Suzana J.; Tippett, Michael K.; Sobel, Adam H.; Vecchi, Gabriel A.; Zhao, Ming

Tropical cyclone genesis indices (TCGIs) are functions of the large-scale environment that are designed to be proxies for the probability of tropical cyclone (TC) genesis. While the performance of TCGIs in the current climate can be assessed by direct comparison to TC observations, their ability to represent future TC activity based on projections of the large-scale environment cannot. Here the authors examine the performance of TCGIs in high-resolution atmospheric model simulations forced with sea surface temperatures (SST) of future, warmer climate scenarios. They investigate whether the TCGIs derived for the present climate can, when computed from large-scale fields taken from future climate simulations, capture the simulated global mean decreases in TC frequency. The TCGIs differ in their choice of environmental predictors, and several choices of predictors perform well in the present climate. However, some TCGIs that perform well in the present climate do not accurately reproduce the simulated future decrease in TC frequency. This decrease is captured when the humidity predictor is the column saturation deficit rather than relative humidity. Using saturation deficit with relative SST as the other thermodynamic predictor overpredicts the TC frequency decrease, while using potential intensity in place of relative SST as the other thermodynamic predictor gives a good prediction of the decrease’s magnitude. These positive results appear to depend on the spatial and seasonal patterns in the imposed SST changes; none of the indices capture correctly the frequency decrease in simulations with spatially uniform climate forcings, whether a globally uniform increase in SST of 2 K, or a doubling of CO2 with no change in SST.


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Journal of Climate

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