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Recent increase in extreme intensity of tropical cyclones making landfall in South China

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Recent increase in extreme intensity of tropical cyclones making landfall in South China

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Kin Sik Liu & Johnny C. L. Chan

Abstract

This study examines the interdecadal variations in the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones (TCs) making landfall in South China (SC) during the period 1975–2018. The annual frequency shows a decrease in 1997 but rises again since 2008 and the annual maximum landfall intensity (MLI) shows an increase since 2012. According to these variations, three subperiods, 1975–1996 (higher frequency but lower MLI), 1997–2011 (lower frequency and MLI) and 2012–2018 (higher frequency and MLI), are defined. The increase in MLI during 2012–2018 is related to the increases in the frequency of (1) TCs undergoing rapid intensification over the South China Sea (SCS) and landfalling in SC, with higher maximum intensity and location of maximum intensity closer to the coast of SC, and (2) intense typhoons (ITYs) over the western North Pacific (WNP), which maintain high intensity before landfall. These changes are closely related to the lower vertical wind shear and higher TC heat potential over the ocean east of the Philippines and the northern part of the SCS. Such an environment is more conducive for TC intensification, leading to the observed increases in the number of rapid-intensifying TCs over the SCS and ITYs over the WNP. Some of these latter TCs move across the SCS and tend to maintain high intensity during landfall in SC. The steering flow also changes, which allows more TCs to enter the SCS, resulting in an increase of ITYs making landfall in SC.

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Year 2020
Language English
Format PDF
DOI 10.1007/s00382-020-05311-5