Met Office announces breakthrough in long range hurricane forecasting

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The UK’s Met Office says that its scientists have made a major breakthrough in forcasting the number of Atlantic tropical storms. The Decadal Climate Prediction System (DePreSys), developed at the Met Office is said to predict storms years ahead of the current season.

“Being able to predict hurricane frequency well beyond the seasonal timescale represents a real step-change in capability”, said Matt Huddleston, Principle Climate Consultant at the Met Office. “Tropical storms present arguably the most destructive weather on the planet. Being able to reliably predict how many storms may occur over a number of years means increased confidence in making strategic plans. Armed with such information, financial and energy sectors will have a genuine advantage.”

The study also looked at the increase in Atlantic hurricane activity in recent seasons and has concluded that it was not exclusively because of sea temperature fluctuations. Doug Smith, the papers lead author said “This opens the door for further research to determine the relative importance of the different factors, be these greenhouse gases, aerosols, volcanic eruptions or solar activity.”

There is currently some controversy over long range models being used to predict Atlantic storm activity with some blaming modelling agencies for increased property insurance rates in Florida. We don’t have enough detail on that to comment but increased rates is a natural side effect of improving models and an increased understanding of the risk, as research continues to improve the model accuracy will improve too and rates will realign. This research from the Met Office will contribute to that increasing accuracy.

The research was published on the Nature Geoscience website (requires subscription).

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