Atlantic hurricanes and climate over the past 1,500 years
Mann, Michael E.
Woodruff, Jonathan D.
Donnelly, Jeffrey P.
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Atlantic Tropical Cyclone (TC) activity, as measured by annual storm counts, reached anomalous levels over the past decade. The short nature of the historical record and potential issues with its reliability in earlier decades, however, has prompted an ongoing debate regarding the reality and significance of the recent rise. Here, we place recent activity in a longer-term context, by comparing two independent estimates of TC activity over the past 1500 years. The first estimate is based on a composite of regional sedimentary evidence of landfalling hurricanes, while the second estimate employs a previously published statistical model of Atlantic TC activity driven by proxy-reconstructions of past climate changes. Both approaches yield consistent evidence of a peak in Atlantic TC activity during Medieval times (around AD 1000) followed by a subsequent lull in activity. The Medieval peak, which rivals or even exceeds (within uncertainties) recent levels of activity, results in the statistical model from a ‘perfect storm’ of La Niña-like climate conditions and relative tropical Atlantic warmth.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2009. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Nature Publishing Group for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Nature 460 (2009): 880-883, doi:10.1038/nature08219.