• U.S. Hurricane Landfall and Climate: Reinsurance Decision Support
Program Disasters Program
PI / Institution Timothy M Hall / NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Start Date August 1, 2009
End Date January 1, 2011
  • Summary

    We propose to apply a new statistical model of North-Atlantic tropical cyclones (TC), based on historical storm track data and developed at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), to estimate the risk of U.S. hurricane landfall and its sensitivity to climate state. The work will be a collaboration of the GISS and Aspen Re, an international reinsurance company. Hurricane landfall risk in the 1 to 10 year time frame is a key factor in a reinsurance company's policy premium and investment decisions, and we will demonstrate the feasibility of using the TC model to inform those decisions. Of particular interest is the impact on regionally-resolved U.S. landfall rates of secular changes in large-scale climate indices, such as North-Atlantic sea-surface temperature (SST), which is increasing in part due to anthropogenic emissions. For decadal changes SST from ensembles of transient climate simulations of the GISS GCM will be used to driv e the TC model. For year-to-year changes, which are dominated by unforced variability, statistical forecast models of SST will be used. The impact on regional landfall of the natural climate modes El Nino/Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation will also be examined. While there has recently been important and fundamental academic work on the hurricane-climate relationship, only a small fraction has focused on US landfall rates, which are the measure of interest for reinsurance companies. The statistical TC model can fill this gap, projecting information about the hurricane-climate relationship onto landfall. Aspen Re will contribute significant financial resources to the project, as it recognizes the importance of the work to its business decisions. However, although Aspen Re may well benefit competitively by having early access to results, all results will be made publicly available through peer-reviewed papers, conference proceedings, and web-site documentation. The Earth-Science Application Areas of this proposal are climate and disaster management.