How much of Typhoon Morakot’s extreme rainfall is attributable to anthropogenic climate change?

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International Journal of Climatology


Typhoon Morakot (2009), which made landfall in Taiwan during August 7–9, 2009, produced the highest rainfall and became the deadliest typhoon ever recorded in Taiwan since 1958. To assess the role of anthropogenic climate change in the typhoon‐related torrent, we compare the water budget between a pair of cloud‐resolving sensitivity experiments. The pair consists of a control simulation that reproduces Typhoon Morakot (2009) in current climate and a sensitivity simulation in which the same storm is placed in a slightly different climate background where the late 20th century anthropogenic climate change signal is removed. The anthropogenic signal is estimated with the CMIP5 experiments of 18 models for the period of 1985–2005, during which the global warming trend is discernible. In climate states that differ merely by a 20‐year mean anthropogenic change, Morakot (2009) yields 3.4–3.6% more total rainfall in the control experiment than its sensitivity counterpart within a radius of 300–500 km from the storm centre. Water budget analysis indicates that the increase in typhoon rainfall is mainly resulted from the enhanced convergence of vapour flux. The enhancement is, in turn, contributed by the increased tropospheric moisture due to global warming and, to a lesser extent, by a more active secondary circulation in the storm that is associated with the anthropogenic climate change.




Extreme rainfall, Anthropogenic climate change, Sensitivity experiments, Water budget analysis, Secondary circulation