XCUBE - The Future of Climate Extremes in the Caribbean

Project Department: Uni Research Climate (groups: Regional Climate & Climate Services, Climate Dynamics, Climate Impacts on Nature and Society) period: 20.04.12 - 30.06.15

About the project

XCUBE Project (eXtreme CUBan climatE)

The Future of Climate Extremes in the Caribbean

The North Atlantic basin, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, exhibits substantial interannual to interdecadal variability of tropical cyclone activity. Major hurricanes are the most extreme type of Atlantic cyclones, and have major impacts on humans and society in the surrounding regions. Increases in key measures of Atlantic hurricane activity over recent decades are believed to reflect to a large degree increases in tropical Atlantic warming (e.g., Emmanuel, 2005). During recent decades a lot of attention has been paid to the apparent observed multidecadal pattern in Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST), often referred to as Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV). The oceans are the primary energy source for tropical cyclones, so understanding long-term changes in Atlantic SSTs could therefore potentially be of prime importance for understanding long-term hurricane variability. Some recent studies (e.g., Goldenberg et al. 2001; Zang and Delworth 2006) have in fact attributed recent increases in hurricane activity to natural climate variations associated to AMV, while others suggest that human-induced climate change are more important (Emmanuel 2005; Webster et al 2005). However, resolving this issue will require a much improved understanding of the governing mechanisms for long-term changes in Atlantic SSTs that are still missing. To what extent the AMO is driven by internal variations in the large-scale ocean circulation (Delworth and Mann 2000; Knight et al. 2005; Jungclaus et al. 2006) or external climate forcings such as volcanoes (e.g., Otterå et al. 2010) or anthropogenic factors (e.g., Mann and Emmanuel 2006) is still largely uncertain. Atlantic SST has further been linked to long-term variations in both Sahel and North Brazilian rainfall (e.g., Knight et al. 2006) as well as Indian monsoon changes (Luo et al. 2011). A better understanding of long-term (multidecadal) variations in Atlantic SSTs are therefore urgently needed.

 

Project Administrator: Dr. Eystein Jansen, Research Director

Project Manager: Dr. Michel d. S. Mesquita, Research Scientist / Group Leader

Research Institution: Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Uni Research AS