Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past, Present, and Future

Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past, Present, and Future

Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past, Present, and Future

Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past, Present, and Future

Synopsis

This book surveys the past, present, and potential future variability of hurricanes and typhoons on a variety of timescales using newly developed approaches based on geological and archival records, in addition to more traditional approaches based on the analysis of the historical record of tropical cyclone tracks. A unique aspect of the book is that it provides an overview of the developing field of paleotempestology, which uses geological, biological, and documentary evidence to reconstruct prehistoric changes in hurricane landfall. The book also presents a particularly wide sampling of ongoing efforts to extend the best track data sets using historical material from many sources, including Chinese archives, British naval logbooks, Spanish colonial records, and early diaries from South Carolina.

The book will be of particular interest to tropical meteorologists, geologists, and climatologists as well as to the catastrophe reinsurance industry, graduate students in meteorology, and public employees active in planning and emergency management.

Excerpt

Another problem, of much more far-reaching consequences, presents itself.
What kind of secular changes may have existed in the frequency and intensity
of the hurricane vortices of the Earth? And what changes may be expected in
the future? We know nothing about these things, but I hope [to] have shown
that even quite a small change in the different factors controlling the life his
tory of a hurricane may produce, or may have produced, great changes in the
paths of hurricanes and in their frequency and intensity. A minor alteration of
the surface temperature of the sun, in the general composition of the earth's
atmosphere, or in the rotation of the earth, might be able to change consider
ably the energy balance and the balance of forces within such a delicate mech
anism as the tropical hurricane. During certain geological epochs, hurricanes
may have been just as frequent as the cyclones of our latitudes, or they may have
occurred all over the oceans and within all coastal regions, and they may
have been even more violent than nowadays. During other periods they may
have been lacking altogether. In studying paleo-climate and paleo-biological
phenomena, especially along the coasts of previous geological epochs, it may
be wise to consider such possibilities.            Tor Bergeron (1954)

Tropical cyclones kill more people and cause more insured losses than any other natural disaster. The numbers can be staggering. For example, winds and flooding from a tropical cyclone striking Bangladesh in 1970 killed more than 300,000 people, and Hurricane Andrew sweeping through southern Florida and Louisiana in 1992 caused more than U.S.$20 billion (2002 dollars) in insured losses (Zanetti et al. 2003). These, of course, are extreme examples. Most tropical cyclones cause fewer deaths and produce less-extensive damage per event, but they are typically among the leading causes of loss of life and property in a given . . .

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