Oral Presentation AMOS Annual Meeting and International Conference on Tropical Meteorology and Oceanography

On the need for enhanced research on the historical and geological record of past tropical cyclone events in Australasia (#58)

Adam D Switzer 1 2
  1. Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  2. Asian School of the Environment, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Recent Tropical Cyclones (TCs) including 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines, 2016 Cyclone Winston, Fiji,  2018 Typhoon Mangkhut, southern China were extremely intense and damaging events. All events caused significant economic and social disruption with Haiyan claiming more than 6000 lives. Although these events were clearly large TCs it is near impossible to state with confidence how they compare to past events beyond a few decades. Although many coasts of tropical Australasia have long detailed written histories that extend back several centuries e.g. China, Japan and Philippines the historical record is commonly fragmentary, incomplete and limited in spatial balance. Despite these limitations, the historical record provides a key link between instrumental datasets and the geological record that allows for detailed reconstruction of past events. Beyond historical accounts lies the realm of palaeotempestology, the study of past TCs using geophysical archives. This rapidly advancing discipline is based on a variety of data including traditional sedimentary techniques applied to coastal sequences and new techniques such as speleothem and tree ring geochemistry. To date palaeotempestological studies in Australasia are limited to very few locations and the present spatial coverage of these studies limits the usefulness of such records. Here, I synthesize the state of knowledge in the region and outline new proxies and apporaches discussing their strengths and limitations at resolving past TC activity. I conclude with some statements on future research directions for palaeotempestology and TC research in the region with the aim of better preparing the populations of the region for potential changes in TC intensity and periodicity with changing climate.