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Impact of projected sea surface temperature biases on tropical cyclones projections in the South Pacific

Abstract : Climate model projections generally indicate fewer but more intense tropical cyclones (TCs) in response to increasing anthropogenic emissions. However these simulations suffer from long-standing biases in their Sea Surface Temperature (SST). While most studies investigating future changes in TC activity using high-resolution atmospheric models correct for the present-day SST bias, they do not consider the reliability of the projected SST changes from global climate models. The present study illustrates that future South Pacific TC activity changes are strongly sensitive to correcting the projected SST changes using an emergent constraint method. This additional correction indeed leads to a strong reduction of the cyclogenesis (−55%) over the South Pacific basin, while no statistically significant change arises in the uncorrected simulations. Cyclogenesis indices suggest that this strong reduction in the corrected experiment is caused by stronger vertical wind shear in response to a South Pacific Convergence Zone equatorward shift. We thus find that uncertainty in the projected SST patterns could strongly hamper the reliability of South Pacific TC projections. The strong sensitivity found in the current study will need to be investigated with other models, observational constraint methods and in other TC basins in order to assess the reliability of regional TC projections.
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Cyril Dutheil, Matthieu Lengaigne, Margot Bador, Jérôme Vialard, Jérôme Lefèvre, et al.. Impact of projected sea surface temperature biases on tropical cyclones projections in the South Pacific. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 10, pp.4838. ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-61570-6⟩. ⟨hal-02550722⟩

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