Longwave emission trends over Africa and implications for Atlantic hurricanes

Lei Zhang, Thomas Rechtman, Kristopher B. Karnauskas, Laifang Li, Jeffrey P. Donnelly, James P. Kossin

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The latitudinal gradient of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) over Africa is a skillful and physically based predictor of seasonal Atlantic hurricane activity. The African OLR gradient is observed to have strengthened during the satellite era, as predicted by state-of-the-art global climate models (GCMs) in response to greenhouse gas forcing. Prior to the satellite era and the U.S. and European clean air acts, the African OLR gradient weakened due to aerosol forcing of the opposite sign. GCMs predict a continuation of the increasing OLR gradient in response to greenhouse gas forcing. Assuming a steady linear relationship between African easterly waves and tropical cyclogenesis, this result suggests a future increase in Atlantic tropical cyclone frequency by 10% (20%) at the end of the 21st century under the RCP 4.5 (8.5) forcing scenario.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9075-9083
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 16 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Zhang, L., Rechtman, T., Karnauskas, K. B., Li, L., Donnelly, J. P., & Kossin, J. P. (2017). Longwave emission trends over Africa and implications for Atlantic hurricanes. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(17), 9075-9083. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL073869