Nov 1, 2009

Tropical cyclone losses in the USA and the impact of climate change

Silvio Schmidta, Claudia Kemfertb, Peter Höppe
Environmental Impact Assessment Review
  • States that economic losses caused by tropical cyclones have increased dramatically
  • Aims to isolate the socio-economic effects and ascertain the potential impact of climate change on this trend
  • Adjusts storm losses for the period 1950–2005 to the value of capital stock in 2005 so that any remaining trend cannot be ascribed to socio-economic developments
  • Introduces a new approach to adjusting losses based on the change in capital stock at risk
  • Determines storm losses by the intensity of the storm and the material assets, such as property and infrastructure, located in the region affected
  • Adjusts the losses to exclude increases in the capital stock of the affected region
  • Finds a trend towards increased intense cyclone activity since the beginning of the period 1971-2005, with losses excluding socio-economic effects showing an annual increase of 4% per annum
  • Results indicate this increase must therefore be at least due to the impact of natural climate variability but, more likely than not, also due to anthropogenic forcings