Ning Lin, Kerry Emanuel, Michael Oppenheimer, Erik Vanmarcke

Nature Climate Change

Published date February 14, 2012

Physically based assessment of hurricane surge threat under climate change

  • States that storm surges are responsible for much of the damage and loss of life associated with landfalling hurricanes
  • As general circulation models (GCMs) cannot simulate hurricane surges directly, this study couples a GCM-driven hurricane model with hydrodynamic models to simulate large numbers of synthetic surge events under projected climates and assess surge threat, as an example, for New York City (NYC)
  • States that New York City—struck by many intense hurricanes in recorded history and prehistory—is highly vulnerable to storm surges
  • Shows that the change of storm climatology will probably increase the surge risk for NYC
  • Results based on two GCMs show the distribution of surge levels shifting to higher values by a magnitude comparable to the projected sea-level rise (SLR)
  • Concludes that the combined effects of storm climatology change and a 1 m SLR may cause the present NYC 100-yr surge flooding to occur every 3–20 yr and the present 500-yr flooding to occur every 25–240 yr by the end of the century