Young-Kwon Lim, Siegfried D. Schubert, Robin Kovach, Andrea M. Molod, Steven Pawson

Scientific Reports

Published date November 1, 2018

The Roles of Climate Change and Climate Variability in the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season

  • States that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was extremely active with six major hurricanes, the third most on record
  • States that the sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) over the eastern Main Development Region (EMDR), where many tropical cyclones (TCs) developed during active months of August/September, were ~0.96 °C above the 1901–2017 average (warmest on record): about ~0.42 °C from a long-term upward trend and the rest (~80%) attributed to the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM).
  • States that the contribution to the SST from the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) over the EMDR was a weak warming, while that from El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was negligible
  • ENSO, the NAO, and the AMM all contributed to favorable wind shear conditions, while the AMM also produced enhanced atmospheric instability
  • Finds that compared with the strong hurricane years of 2005/2010, the ocean heat content (OHC) during 2017 was larger across the tropics, with higher SST anomalies over the EMDR and Caribbean Sea
  • Finds, on the other hand, the dynamical/thermodynamical atmospheric conditions, while favorable for enhanced TC activity, were less prominent than in 2005/2010 across the tropics
  • The results suggest that unusually warm SST in the EMDR together with the long fetch of the resulting storms in the presence of record-breaking OHC may be key factors in driving the strong TC activity in 2017