Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
Over the past 40 years, tropical cyclones have caused over $1,076.9B in damage in the United States. The fatalities from tropical cyclones are just as devastating. Hurricane Katrina of 2005 caused over 1,800 deaths; Harvey in 2017 just under 90 deaths; Ike of 2018 took 112 deaths; and horrifically, Maria of 2017 claimed nearly 3,000 lives. The destruction that tropical cyclones have caused is astronomical, and a factor of tropical cyclones that is responsible for this level of destruction is their translation speeds. Tropical cyclone translation speed (TCTS) is the speed at which a hurricane is moving--the duration of time it takes for a storm to move from Point A of its track to Point B. Recently, there has been discourse within the scientific community regarding changing trends of TCTS under a changing climate. This research sets out to understand if there has been a statistically significant change in tropical cyclone translation speeds in the North Atlantic Oceanic basin over the past 40 years. The analysis was performed on multiple spatial scales, including 2.5o by 2.5o individual grid cells; latitudinal aggregation; aggregation into four quadrants within the basin as well as being aggregated by land grid cells and ocean grid cells. A sens.slope test calculating the linear rate of change and significance of that trend found that at a 5% confidence level, there was an increasing trend in TCTS at two different latitudinal ranges, in the southwestern quadrant, and at the oceanic aggregation. All the statistically significant trends were positive, indicating an increase in the duration over the forty-year time series and therefore, a slowing TCTS. These results imply that regions experiencing TCs will experience greater exposure to some of the most devastating aspects of TC storms such as extreme rainfall, windspeeds, and flooding. Increased exposure to these elements could and will likely translate to a rise in both economic devastation and fatalities.
Melcher, Marybeth, "Tropical Cyclone Translation Speeds in the Northern Atlantic Ocean" (2022). Honors Theses. 3560.
Honors Thesis-Open Access