Influence of Weather and Climate on Multidecadal Trends in Atlantic Hurricane Genesis and Tracks

Grace Kortum, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Tsung Lin Hsieh, Wenchang Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the relative roles of sea surface temperature–forced climate changes and weather variability in driving the observed eastward shift of Atlantic hurricane tracks over the period from 1970 to 2021. A 10-member initial condition ensemble with a;25-km horizontal resolution tropical cyclone permitting atmospheric model (GFDL AM2.5-C360) with identical sea surface temperature and radiative forcing time series was analyzed in conjunction with historical hurricane track observations. While a frequency increase was recovered by all the simulations, the observed multidecadal eastward shift in tracks was not robust across the ensemble members, indicating that it included a substantial contribution from weather-scale variability. A statistical model was developed to simulate expected storm tracks based on genesis location and steering flow, and it was used to conduct experiments testing the roles of changing genesis location and changing steering flow in producing the multidecadal weather-driven shifts in storm tracks. These experiments indicated that shifts in genesis location were a substantially larger driver of these multidecadal track changes than changes in steering flow. The substantial impact of weather on tracks indicates that there may be limited predictability for multidecadal track changes like those observed, although basinwide frequency has greater potential for prediction. Additionally, understanding changes in genesis location appears essential to understanding changes in track location.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1501-1522
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 10 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Climate models
  • Climate variability
  • Ensembles
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Statistical techniques
  • Storm tracks


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