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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • hurricanes
  • power dissipation index
  • scaling laws
  • goodness-of-fit tests
  • sea surface temperature
  • correlation

Index Terms

  • 3374 Atmospheric Processes: Tropical meteorology
  • 1616 Global Change: Climate variability
  • 4480 Nonlinear Geophysics: Self-organized criticality
  • 4468 Nonlinear Geophysics: Probability distributions, heavy and fat-tailed



Variability of North Atlantic Hurricanes: Seasonal Versus Individual-Event Features

Álvaro Corral

Centre de Recerca Matemàtica, Barcelona, Spain

Antonio Turiel

Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Barcelona, Spain

Tropical cyclones are affected by a large number of climatic factors, which translates into complex patterns of occurrence. The variability of annual metrics of tropical cyclone activity has been intensively studied since the sudden activation of the North Atlantic in the mid-1990s. We provide an overview of work by diverse authors about these annual metrics for the North Atlantic basin, where the natural variability of the phenomenon, the existence of trends, the drawbacks of the records, and the influence of global warming have been the subject of interesting debates. Next, we present an alternative approach that does not focus on seasonal features but on the characteristics of single events. Thus, the individual-storm power dissipation index (PDI) constitutes a natural way to describe each event, with its statistics yielding a robust law for the occurrence of tropical cyclones in terms of a power law distribution. As an important extension, we model the whole range of the PDI density (excluding incompleteness effects at the smallest values) with the gamma distribution, consisting of a power law with an exponential tail. The characteristic scale of this decay, represented by the cutoff parameter, provides very valuable information on the finite size of the basin via the largest values of the PDIs that the basin can sustain. We use the gamma fit to evaluate the positive influence on the occurrence of extreme PDI values of sea surface temperature, the positive phase of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, the number of hurricanes in a season, and extreme negative values of the multivariate El Niño–Southern Oscillation index.

Citation: Corral, Á., and A. Turiel (2012), Variability of North Atlantic hurricanes: Seasonal versus individual-event features, in Extreme Events and Natural Hazards: The Complexity Perspective, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 196, edited by A. S. Sharma et al. 111–125, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001069.


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