Landfalling typhoons that strike East and Southeast Asia have intensified over the past decades as a result of a warming ocean surface near the coasts, reports a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience. With further sea surface warming projected as atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations increase, the findings suggest that mainland China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan are likely to experience more damaging typhoons in the future.
Regional changes in typhoon intensity have been difficult to identify because of inconsistencies in the available data. In particular, contradictory trends in the annual number of storms were identified for the two strongest categories of typhoons.
Wei Mei and Shang-Ping Xie reconciled the data by correcting for differences in methodology, discovering a substantial shift towards more intense typhoons over the past 38 years. Using a cluster analysis, they found that landfalling typhoons show much stronger intensification than those that stay over the ocean. They attribute these changes to faster intensification, as opposed to a longer period of intensification at the same rate.