HPC and Climate: Coastal Hurricanes Around the World Are Intensifying Faster

By Brendan Bane

June 6, 2024

Hurricanes are among the world’s most destructive natural hazards. Their environment shapes their ability to deliver damage; conditions like warm ocean waters, guiding winds, and atmospheric moisture can all dictate storm strength.

A new study led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory finds that coastal conditions have changed since 1979, driving nearshore hurricanes around the world to intensify at a quickening pace. Moreover, new projections suggest this rate will continue climbing should current warming trends continue. The new work was published recently in Earth’s Future, the American Geophysical Union journal.

Much work has been done documenting how hurricanes change in our warmer world. Past research has shown these storms may grow wetter, threatening heightened flooding risks. Other work suggests they may strike more often in some areas and that their intensity may peak closer to the coast, posing additional risk to the roughly 40 percent of the world’s population that lives within 100 kilometers (62.13 miles) of a coastline, according to the United Nations.

With landfalling hurricanes comes strong winds and boosted precipitation, two factors that can exacerbate the impacts of storm surge and coastal flooding. In new work, PNNL scientists find that amplified warming in the upper troposphere and changes in heating patterns are driving hurricanes to intensify faster, specifically close to coastlines. 
(Image by 12019 | Pixabay.com)

Yet, until now, no one has documented whether coastal hurricanes are intensifying faster at a global scale. Looking at past data, the authors of the new work found that the average rate at which these storms intensified over the period from 1979 to 2000 was 0.37 knots every six hours. That pace picked up for the period from 2000 to 2020, where the mean intensification rate was 1.15 knots every six hours.

In the two decades preceding the year 2000, on average, a hurricane might have begun at a certain intensity and increased in strength by roughly 1.5 knots over the course of a day. After 2000, an average hurricane could begin at the same intensity and strengthen by about 4.5 knots during the same 24-hour period.

Also new is the finding that this global trend will likely ramp up under climate change. Much hurricane research focuses on historical observations, looking at past records to investigate potential trends in hurricane intensification.

In the new work, climate modeling revealed how hurricanes could shape up in the coming decades. According to the new work, hurricanes on nearly every coastline of the world’s continental landmasses are likely to intensify faster as the world warms.

“We’re not talking about intensification out in the middle of the ocean,” said lead author and climate scientist Karthik Balaguru. “We’re talking about it happening right at the coastline, where it matters most.” Though the change is unique to the coastal environment, islands could face the same risk, Balaguru added, because the same rise in intensification may develop near the Philippines and Madagascar.

Rising Intensification Rates: What’s Behind the Change?

The authors of the new work point to increased humidity and weakened wind shear as major contributors to the climbing rate of intensification, with the latter playing a particularly important role in the future.

Wind shear refers to wind speed and direction changes at different altitudes in Earth’s atmosphere. Imagine traveling straight up from the planet’s surface as if you were in an elevator. Winds would not be uniform as you move through atmospheric layers—you might encounter powerful gusts in one layer and perhaps weaker winds moving in a different direction a few kilometers above.

Vertical wind shear holds great influence over a hurricane’s strength. If sufficiently strong, wind shear can rob moisture from the storm’s core, sapping its power. Too weak, and hurricanes can intensify.

Balaguru’s team found that wind shear will likely weaken across much of the globe, especially near the Northern Hemisphere coastal regions, in a warmer climate. There are likely multiple factors at play.

Heat transferred from the subtropical ocean surface to the air above alters atmospheric circulation patterns, ultimately leading to weaker wind shear across U.S. coastlines. Over Northeast Asia, warming in the upper levels of Earth’s atmosphere is the primary driver behind weaker wind shear. Past research has shown that the higher levels of Earth’s atmosphere are warming faster than the planetary surface.

“This work holds profound implications for people living on the coast, as well as operational forecasters and decision-makers,” said coauthor and Earth scientist Ruby Leung. “The rising intensification rates we observed could mean that landfalling hurricanes are on track to grow stronger and thus more destructive. It’s important that we understand how the risks posed by these storms could change as our climate changes.”

The authors point out that rising intensification rates are not completely uniform globally. For instance, the data do not indicate that hurricanes are intensifying significantly faster along the west coast of Mexico.

Not all hurricanes rapidly intensify—the authors of the new work investigated hurricane intensification generally. What factors drive rapid intensification? Karthik Balaguru explains.

In line with flagging how global warming could influence extreme weather this century, Balaguru recently led another team to uncover a surprising link between hurricanes and another form of natural hazard: wildfires.

Cyclones and Wildfire

In work published earlier this year, Balaguru and his coauthors found that hurricanes originating in the Eastern Pacific Ocean could influence wildfire weather in the Southwest United States.

Eastern Pacific hurricanes tend not to make landfall often. Their paths typically remain in ocean waters. However, from September to October, the storms are more likely to defy that trend.

Hurricane Hilary, for example, formed in the Eastern Pacific and soon touched down on the western Baja California Peninsula, leading the National Hurricane Center to issue its first-ever tropical storm warning for Southern California.

Roughly 2.7 million acres burned within the U.S. during the 2023 wildfire season, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. New work suggests Eastern Pacific hurricanes could render land in the Southwest U.S. less prone to wildfire. Such hurricanes may become rarer, however, in a warmer world. (Image by photo-graphe | Pixabay.com)

Balaguru’s team found that Eastern Pacific hurricanes could dampen wildfire risk in the Southwest U.S. by delivering precipitation and boosting the amount of moisture in both the soil and atmosphere. Indeed, the researchers observed less wildfire-burned land in periods after the storms made landfall.

The team’s climate model projections suggested this hurricane activity may dial down in the Eastern Pacific in the decades to come due to global warming. Without their moisture delivery into the already fire-prone region, wildfires could spark up more often.

However, more work is needed to understand the complete relationship between the two phenomena. Moisture brought by Eastern Pacific hurricanes could also fuel vegetation growth in the Southwest U.S., for example, adding fuel for future fires.

PNNL Background

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology, and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address sustainable energy and national security challenges. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://www.energy.gov/science/. For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL’s News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


Brendan Bane’s love for science began with a giant, hairy arachnid—a classroom pet that sparked his interest in how living things become wondrous and weird. Today, Brendan is proud to share stories from PNNL scientists. At PNNL, Brendan covers atmospheric, climate, environmental, and coastal sciences, renewable, fossil, nuclear energy, and buildings. He is a graduate of the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He still plays with spiders in his downtime. Find Brendan on LinkedIn.

This article was initially posted on the PNLL News Site and is reproduced here with their permission.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

HPE and NVIDIA Join Forces and Plan Conquest of Enterprise AI Frontier

June 20, 2024

The HPE Discover 2024 conference is currently in full swing, and the keynote address from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) CEO Antonio Neri on Tuesday, June 18, was an unforgettable event. Other than being the first busi Read more…

Slide Shows Samsung May be Developing a RISC-V CPU for In-memory AI Chip

June 19, 2024

Samsung may have unintentionally revealed its intent to develop a RISC-V CPU, which a presentation slide showed may be used in an AI chip. The company plans to release an AI accelerator with heavy in-memory processing, b Read more…

ASC24 Student Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why?

June 18, 2024

As is our tradition, we’re going to take a detailed look back at the recently concluded the ASC24 Student Cluster Competition (Asia Supercomputer Community) to see not only who won the various awards, but to figure out Read more…

Qubits 2024: D-Wave’s Steady March to Quantum Success

June 18, 2024

In his opening keynote at D-Wave’s annual Qubits 2024 user meeting, being held in Boston, yesterday and today, CEO Alan Baratz again made the compelling pitch that D-Wave’s brand of analog quantum computing (quantum Read more…

Apple Using Google Cloud Infrastructure to Train and Serve AI

June 18, 2024

Apple has built a new AI infrastructure to deliver AI features introduced in its devices and is utilizing resources available in Google's cloud infrastructure.  Apple's new AI backend includes: A homegrown foun Read more…

Argonne’s Rick Stevens on Energy, AI, and a New Kind of Science

June 17, 2024

The world is currently experiencing two of the largest societal upheavals since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. One is the rapid improvement and implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, while the Read more…

HPE and NVIDIA Join Forces and Plan Conquest of Enterprise AI Frontier

June 20, 2024

The HPE Discover 2024 conference is currently in full swing, and the keynote address from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) CEO Antonio Neri on Tuesday, June 18, Read more…

Slide Shows Samsung May be Developing a RISC-V CPU for In-memory AI Chip

June 19, 2024

Samsung may have unintentionally revealed its intent to develop a RISC-V CPU, which a presentation slide showed may be used in an AI chip. The company plans to Read more…

Qubits 2024: D-Wave’s Steady March to Quantum Success

June 18, 2024

In his opening keynote at D-Wave’s annual Qubits 2024 user meeting, being held in Boston, yesterday and today, CEO Alan Baratz again made the compelling pitch Read more…

Shutterstock_666139696

Argonne’s Rick Stevens on Energy, AI, and a New Kind of Science

June 17, 2024

The world is currently experiencing two of the largest societal upheavals since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. One is the rapid improvement and imp Read more…

Under The Wire: Nearly HPC News (June 13, 2024)

June 13, 2024

As managing editor of the major global HPC news source, the term "news fire hose" is often mentioned. The analogy is quite correct. In any given week, there are Read more…

Labs Keep Supercomputers Alive for Ten Years as Vendors Pull Support Early

June 12, 2024

Laboratories are running supercomputers for much longer, beyond the typical lifespan, as vendors prematurely deprecate the hardware and stop providing support. Read more…

MLPerf Training 4.0 – Nvidia Still King; Power and LLM Fine Tuning Added

June 12, 2024

There are really two stories packaged in the most recent MLPerf  Training 4.0 results, released today. The first, of course, is the results. Nvidia (currently Read more…

Highlights from GlobusWorld 2024: The Conference for Reimagining Research IT

June 11, 2024

The Globus user conference, now in its 22nd year, brought together over 180 researchers, system administrators, developers, and IT leaders from 55 top research Read more…

Atos Outlines Plans to Get Acquired, and a Path Forward

May 21, 2024

Atos – via its subsidiary Eviden – is the second major supercomputer maker outside of HPE, while others have largely dropped out. The lack of integrators and Atos' financial turmoil have the HPC market worried. If Atos goes under, HPE will be the only major option for building large-scale systems. Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Everyone Except Nvidia Forms Ultra Accelerator Link (UALink) Consortium

May 30, 2024

Consider the GPU. An island of SIMD greatness that makes light work of matrix math. Originally designed to rapidly paint dots on a computer monitor, it was then Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD MI3000A

How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... Read more…

Intel’s Next-gen Falcon Shores Coming Out in Late 2025 

April 30, 2024

It's a long wait for customers hanging on for Intel's next-generation GPU, Falcon Shores, which will be released in late 2025.  "Then we have a rich, a very Read more…

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

Nvidia Shipped 3.76 Million Data-center GPUs in 2023, According to Study

June 10, 2024

Nvidia had an explosive 2023 in data-center GPU shipments, which totaled roughly 3.76 million units, according to a study conducted by semiconductor analyst fir Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to Read more…

AMD Clears Up Messy GPU Roadmap, Upgrades Chips Annually

June 3, 2024

In the world of AI, there's a desperate search for an alternative to Nvidia's GPUs, and AMD is stepping up to the plate. AMD detailed its updated GPU roadmap, w Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire