A potential explanation for the global increase in tropical cyclone rapid intensification

Kieran Bhatia, Alexander Baker, Wenchang Yang, Gabriel Vecchi, Thomas Knutson, Hiroyuki Murakami, James Kossin, Kevin Hodges, Keith Dixon, Benjamin Bronselaer, Carolyn Whitlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Tropical cyclone rapid intensification events often cause destructive hurricane landfalls because they are associated with the strongest storms and forecasts with the highest errors. Multi-decade observational datasets of tropical cyclone behavior have recently enabled documentation of upward trends in tropical cyclone rapid intensification in several basins. However, a robust anthropogenic signal in global intensification trends and the physical drivers of intensification trends have yet to be identified. To address these knowledge gaps, here we compare the observed trends in intensification and tropical cyclone environmental parameters to simulated natural variability in a high-resolution global climate model. In multiple basins and the global dataset, we detect a significant increase in intensification rates with a positive contribution from anthropogenic forcing. Furthermore, thermodynamic environments around tropical cyclones have become more favorable for intensification, and climate models show anthropogenic warming has significantly increased the probability of these changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6626
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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