For more than two decades, AIR scientists have been conducting and publishing research on the potential impacts of warming temperatures, climate model projections, and the implications of climate change for risk management. More recently, AIR has enhanced its climate research with real-time risk assessment tools.
The IPCC and Climate Change
The Earth’s climate is changing. According to a 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “...warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.” While there is uncertainty in the magnitude and rate at which warming will occur and debate continues over its precise causes, it is clear that the consequences of a warmer climate will have profound societal impacts worldwide.
Climate Change and Hurricane Risk
To develop a better understanding of the impact of a warmer climate on natural hazards, AIR scientists continue to research the link between elevated sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic Ocean and hurricane landfall frequency. Such research involves studying the relationship between climate conditions and basin activity, how the effects are distributed regionally along the Gulf and East coasts of the U.S.
As a supplement to the standard U.S. hurricane catalog based on 110+ years of tropical cyclone activity, AIR offers a supplemental view of hurricane risk based on years when Atlantic sea-surface temperatures were warmer than the long-term average. The warm sea-surface temperature (WSST) catalog is constructed in much the same way as the standard catalog, but conditioned on a warm ocean climate.
AIR’s research into climatic effects on U.S. hurricane risk is objective and transparent, and thus fully reproducible—a critical step in the scientific method. The findings of AIR’s climate research program are peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals.
Understanding Climate Risk Across Perils
The potential of climate change to alter the frequency or severity of meteorological risks is not exclusive to tropical cyclones. The scientists at AIR stay abreast of the latest research on climate signals coming from the larger scientific community, including the effects on severe thunderstorms, coastal and inland floods, and extratropical cyclones. Sea level rise is another expanding area of research with many implications for emerging risks.
Scientists at AIR collaborate with some of the world’s foremost climate change research centers, such as The Met Office (UK) and Geosciences Australia (GA), to assess the financial impacts of climate globally.
Climate and Real-Time Risk Assessment
AIR has developed a suite of tools designed to help companies assess and manage their risk as storms form and evolve. ClimateCast ® Atlantic Hurricane Conditions provides an overview of the current hurricane season, including basin statistics and comparisons to long-term averages, as well as the observed state of three important ingredients in tropical storm development and landfall potential: sea-surface temperatures, wind shear, and steering currents. ClimateCast® U.S. Hurricane Risk Index provides real-time view of insured risk by making direct use of operational model forecasts of storm track and intensity.