The sun-hurricane connection: Diagnosing the solar impacts on hurricane frequency over the North Atlantic basin using a space-time model

The authors define a spatio-statistical response of hurricane frequency to the solar cycle. Previous research indicates reduced (increased) hurricane intensities and frequency in the western (eastern) tropical Atlantic. However, no formal quantitative relationship has been spatially established between hurricane frequency and solar activity. The authors use a Bayesian hierarchical space–time model, an increasingly popular approach due to its advantage in facilitating regression modeling of space–time phenomena in the context of large data sets. Regional hurricane frequency over the period 1866–2010 is examined in response to September sunspot number (SSN) while controlling for other relevant climate factors. The response features a 13 % reduction in probability of annual hurricane occurrence for southeastern Cuba, the southern Bahama islands, Haiti, and Jamaica when the SSN is 80 sunspots. In contrast, hurricane risk in regions of the southeastern Atlantic is predicted to increase by 73 % when the SSN is 160 sunspots. The model can be ported to explore other relationships over contiguous space.

Hodges, R.E., Jagger, T., Elsner, J. The sun-hurricane connection: Diagnosing the solar impacts on hurricane frequency over the North Atlantic basin using a space-time model, Natural Hazards, March 2014.