North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Outer Size and Structure Remain Unchanged by the Late Twenty-First Century

Benjamin A. Schenkel, Daniel Chavas, Ning Lin, Thomas Knutson, Gabriel Vecchi, Alan Brammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


There is a lack of consensus on whether North Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) outer size and structure (i.e., change in outer winds with increasing radius from the TC) will differ by the late twenty-first century. Hence, this work seeks to examine whether North Atlantic TC outer wind field size and structure will change by the late twenty-first century using multiple simulations under CMIP3 SRES A1B and CMIP5 RCP4.5 scenarios. Specifically, our analysis examines data from the GFDL High-Resolution Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution model (HiFLOR) and two versions of the GFDL hurricane model downscaling climate model output. Our results show that projected North Atlantic TC outer size and structure remain unchanged by the late twenty-first century within nearly all HiFLOR and GFDL hurricane model simulations. Moreover, no significant regional outer size differences exist in the North Atlantic within most HiFLOR and GFDL hurricane model simulations. No changes between the control and late-twenty-first-century simulations exist over the storm life cycle in nearly all simulations. For the simulation that shows significant decreases in TC outer size, the changes are attributed to reductions in storm lifetime and outer size growth rates. The absence of differences in outer size among most simulations is consistent with the process that controls the theoretical upper bound of storm size (i.e., Rhines scaling), which is thermodynamically invariant. However, the lack of complete consensus among simulations for many of these conclusions suggests nontrivial uncertainty in our results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-382
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Anthropogenic effects/forcing
  • Climate change
  • Climate models
  • Downscaling
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Tropical cyclones


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