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On the interpretation of natural archives of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity.

Michael Burn

Michael James Burn

Geophysical Research Letters




Sediment records recovered from coastal lagoons and submerged sinkholes across the hurricane belt of the North Atlantic can provide high-resolution archives of the passage of tropical cyclones spanning the last few millennia. These “event-based” records of tropical cyclone activity mostly exhibit centennial-scale variability, which has hitherto been attributed to climatic change. In a landmark study, Wallace et al. (2020, show that the centennial-scale signal exhibited by individual event-based storm reconstructions is most likely explained by local-scale stochastic processes that influence the course taken by individual storms and not by climatic change. Detecting a climate signal within proxy-based storm records must now either rely on developing a composite signal derived from multiple “event-based” records or by adopting a statistical approach to the reconstruction of storms. Future work needs to increase the density of study archives across the region and standardize and integrate diverse approaches to the reconstruction of hurricane activity.




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