New model to calculate risk from tropical cyclones

To minimize the impact of tropical cyclones worldwide by the implementation of adaptation strategies, it is crucial to accurately calculate the risk of these storms. Together with other partners, researchers of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam developed a new model to simulate tropical cyclone activity worldwide and their intensities in coastal areas and on small islands such as in the Caribbean.

02/06/2020 | 10:08 AM

The research is published in Scientific Data.

Researchers from the VU-Institute for Environmental Studies, in close collaboration with the University of Southampton and the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI), have developed the Synthetic Tropical cyclOne geneRation Model (STORM). Using advanced statistics, the STORM model constructs out of a small dataset, a new dataset of 10,000 years of tropical cyclone activity under the same climate conditions. This way, tropical cyclones are being simulated that have not occurred (yet), but are theoretically possible in our current climate conditions.

Risk calculations
It is proven difficult to adequately calculate tropical cyclone risk from currently available datasets. This is due to these datasets having little information about the spatial and temporal scale of these cyclones. Most datasets only span 40 years, which is too short to say anything about the occurrence of the most extreme storms. First author climate scientist Nadia Bloemendaal: “For the first time, we have created a dataset with extreme cyclones that cannot be found in our historical records, but can theoretically occur. This is very valuable information for stakeholders and policymakers to test their adaption strategies.”

The STORM model will be developed further so that it will also be possible to analyze tropical cyclones under climate change. This will provide policymaker with information about a potential increase in frequency and intensity of the extreme storms, even in areas where they have not occurred till date. In the past ten years, the world has seen substantial tropical cyclone damages, peaking in 2017 when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria entered the top-5 costliest hurricanes ever with a combined damage of over 220 billion USD.