Physically based assessment of hurricane surge threat under climate change

  • Lin N
  • Emanuel K
  • Oppenheimer M
 et al. 
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Storm surges are responsible for much of the damage and loss of life associated with landfalling hurricanes. Understanding how global warming will affect hurricane surges thus holds great interest. As general circulation models (GCMs) cannot simulate hurricane surges directly, we couple a GCM-driven hurricane model with hydrodynamic models to simulate large numbers of synthetic surge events under projected climates and assess surge threat, as an example, for New York City (NYC). Struck by many intense hurricanes in recorded history and prehistory, NYC is highly vulnerable to storm surges. We show that the change of storm climatology will probably increase the surge risk for NYC; results based on two GCMs show the distribution of surge levels shifting to higher values by a magnitude comparable to the projected sea-level rise (SLR). The combined effects of storm climatology change and a 1 m SLR may cause the present NYC 100-yr surge flooding to occur every 3-20 yr and the present 500-yr flooding to occur every 25-240 yr by the end of the century.

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  • Ning Lin

  • Kerry Emanuel

  • Michael Oppenheimer

  • Erik Vanmarcke

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