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We are keen to receive review comments for our new paper which is now available for open peer review here

Paul Homewood: The 2023 Hurricane Season

Are hurricanes getting worse? It is widely believed that hurricanes are now more frequent, powerful, or both than they used to be. And the cause of this increase, we are told, is climate change. This belief is fuelled by widespread claims by the media and some politicians, particularly when a bad storm occurs.

The belief is also reinforced because the damage caused by hurricanes is much greater nowadays, thanks to increasing populations in vulnerable coastal areas and greater wealth. But is this belief correct, or is it a misconception? This study has carefully analysed official data and assessments by hurricane scientists and agencies.

Submitted comments and contributions will be subject to a moderation process and will be published, provided they are substantive and not abusive.

Review comments should be emailed to:

The deadline for review comments is 5 February 2024.


Dr James Martin

The paper is rather disjointed and could benefit from some reordering and editing. Sadly it follows the old fashioned scientific paper pattern of throwing lots of data and little information at the reader with uncollated shreds of semi conclusions scattered in almost as anecdotes so that there is no logical progression towards a proposition.

1. The punch line is at the end where the IPCC says that hurricanes are not increasing.  That should be at the beginning setting out the proposition that the paper is supporting (or challenging).

2. Each ‘chapter’ should be titled by how it supports or refutes the proposition not just the dataset name.

3. The most persuasive information is the lowest millibar pressure plots because ships and land stations have carried accurate mercury barometers for a very long time.  Put that up front as it shows that nothing has changed.  It would be much more convincing if the pressure data was not just from the Atlantic too.

4. Sadly textual quotations of published papers carry little weight because there is an equal or larger body of ‘scientific writers’ who say the opposite purely because if they did not they would not be funded. Therefore, cut down on the quotations and stick to data that has been verified and statements of what the author of this paper has shown that it means.

5. So in summary I think the paper is trying to say that the IPCC’s statement

 “There is low confidence in most reported long-term (multi-decadal to centennial) trends in TC frequency- or intensity-based metrics due to changes in the technology used to collect the best-track data” 

is true, but that now there is a body of good quality evidence that can say more than that, i.e. there is no evidence in the observational data that hurricanes are increasing in frequency or intensity over the last 100 years.


Max Beran 

Section 5 on the IPCC AR6 claims should not be expressed in this personalised fashion. I know it’s how we write in the blogosphere, but this is an occasion for the use of the passive voice; “it was noted”, “a claim is made”.

The opening paragraph says changes in technology are responsible for the “low confidence”, i.e. below the limit of detection. An alternative explanation (perhaps a recommendation for research going into AR7) is that there simply isn’t any trend to explain. Are there not self-limiting processes that flatten a response to temperature increase?

More my field is this whole “low confidence” business. This uncommon formulation arises from the way the IPCC was set up to be a confirmatory body – this is the theory, tell us about the data that support this theory. In essence the complete reversal of kosher science which says, here are the data, tell us the pros and cons of the different theories that could explain the data. This is particularly pertinent with trend analyses which by convention assumes a null hypothesis of no trend followed by a statistical analysis of the data to accept or reject that null hypothesis.  

Along similar lines of recommending research for AR7, what are the mechanisms that would explain why global proportion, latitude shift, and precipitation exhibit trends where overall frequency dos not. It is reasonable always to demand of a work of science an explanation for an observation, not just a bald statement of the observation.

Describing a technique as “highly controversial” calls for some words of justification presumably along the lines of being based on comparing output of model runs and lacking observational back-up.


Dr Peter Ridd

The review looks very good to me. Short enough to be read, and comprehensive enough to be useful. I found nothing to quibble about. One useful fact that might be worthwhile putting in is that Australia’s most intense cyclone was Cyclone Mahina in 1899. 

On a related  topic, there seems to be no doubt that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology always over predicts the intensity of cyclones by at least one unit on the 5 point scale. For example 3 days ago, in Townsville where I live, we got hit by a Cyclone (Kirrily) that was supposed to be Cat3, which they eventually said was Cat 2, but a survey of the damage would indicate it was a Cat1 (there was almost not much  damage even to trees). I think they might do this to “nudge” us to take them seriously but most of the people I know subtract 1 from the BOM’s statements.