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Hurricanes in Climates of the Past

Advisor: Dr. Robert Korty

Years Active: Fall 2016 - Summer 2019

What was this research?

I primarily assisted Dr. Korty in studying the thermodynamic properties and stability of the tropical atmosphere and how its evolution affects the suitability of the environment that spawns tropical storms. Part of this effort involved studying model-generated cyclones in different climates. The primary goal was to use this information to better understand how storms fundamentally depend on properties of the underlying environment in which they develop. This is important in better understanding how tropical cyclones will respond to changes in future climates. 

How did I contribute?

My project studied tropical cyclones (TCs) downscaled from climate simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the 20th Century (20C). I use models from the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparision Project Phase III (PMIP3). While some models depict the response of tropical cyclones to LGM/20C climate change similarly to that of the current scientific consensus, others deviate significantly. This, we have discovered, is likely due to inherent model biases. Understanding the basis for these deviations is essential if we wish to use these models to support or modify conclusions on TC behavior in future climates.

Publications and Presentations

  • Lawton, Q. A., R. L. Korty, and R. A. Zamora, 2021: Tropical cyclones downscaled from simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum. J. Climate, 34(2), 659-674, doi:

  • Lawton, Q. A., 2018: Downscaled Tropical Cyclones in Simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum. Thesis, Texas A&M University, 72 pp. Two-year embargo hold, available upon request.

I have also presented this work at a number of professional conferences. This includes a presentation at the 33rd Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, a recording of which can be found here. Other venues I have presented at include the 2018 AMS Student Poster Session and the 2017 Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium at Rice University. 

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