Several recent models suggest that the frequency of Atlantic tropical cyclones could decrease as the climate warms. However, these models are unable to reproduce storms of category 3 or higher intensity. We explored the influence of future global warming on Atlantic hurricanes with a downscaling strategy by using an operational hurricane-prediction model that produces a realistic distribution of intense hurricane activity for present-day conditions. The model projects nearly a doubling of the frequency of category 4 and 5 storms by the end of the 21st century, despite a decrease in the overall frequency of tropical cyclones, when the downscaling is based on the ensemble mean of 18 global climate-change projections. The largest increase is projected to occur in the Western Atlantic, north of 20°N.
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