Estimation of the Maximum Annual Number of North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones using Climate Models

Using millennia-long climate model simulations, favorable environments for tropical cyclone formation are examined to determine whether the record number of tropical cyclones in the 2005 Atlantic season is close to the maximum possible number for the present climate of that basin. By estimating both the mean number of tropical cyclones and their possible year-to-year random variability, we find that the likelihood that the maximum number of storms in the Atlantic could be greater than the number of events observed during the 2005 season is less than 3.5%. Using a less restrictive comparison between simulated and observed climate with the internal variability accounted for, this probability increases to 9%; however, the estimated maximum possible number of tropical cyclones does not greatly exceed the 2005 total. Hence, the 2005 season can be used as a risk management benchmark for the maximum possible number of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic.

Lavender, S.L., K.J.E. Walsh, L-P. Caron, M. King, S. Monkiewicz, M. Guishard, Q. Zhang, and B. Hunt, 2018: Estimation of the maximum annual number of North Atlantic tropical cyclones using climate models. Science Advances, 4, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat6509.