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Tropical cyclone projections: Changing climate threats for Pacific Island defense installations

October 16, 2018

Potential changing climate threats in the tropical and subtropical North Pacific Ocean were assessed, using coupled ocean-atmosphere and atmosphere-only general circulation models, to explore their response to projected increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Tropical cyclone occurrence, described by their frequency and intensity, near islands housing major U.S. defense installations was the primary focus. Four island regions—Guam and Kwajalein Atoll in the tropical northwestern Pacific, Okinawa in the subtropical northwestern Pacific, and O‘ahu in the tropical northcentral Pacific—were considered, as they provide unique climate and geographical characteristics that either enhance or reduce the tropical cyclone risk. Guam experiences the most frequent and severe tropical cyclones, which often originate as weak systems close to the equator near Kwajalein and sometimes track far enough north to affect Okinawa, whereas intense storms are the least frequent around O‘ahu. From assessments of models that simulate well the tropical Pacific climate, it was determined that, with a projected warming climate, the number of tropical cyclones is likely to decrease for Guam and Kwajalein but remain about the same near Okinawa and O‘ahu; however, the maximum intensity of the strongest storms may increase in most regions. The likelihood of fewer but stronger storms will necessitate new localized assessments of the risk and vulnerabilities to tropical cyclones in the North Pacific.

Publication Year 2019
Title Tropical cyclone projections: Changing climate threats for Pacific Island defense installations
DOI 10.1175/WCAS-D-17-0112.1
Authors Matthew J. Widlansky, Hariharasubramanian Annamalai, Stephen B. Gingerich, Curt D. Storlazzi, John J. Marra, Kevin I. Hodges, Barry Choy, Akio Kitoh
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Weather, Climate, and Society
Index ID 70203303
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coastal and Marine Geology Program; Oregon Water Science Center; Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center; Pacific Islands Water Science Center