Cluster analysis of North Atlantic tropical cyclones

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Procedia Computer Science, 2014, 36 (C), pp. 293 - 300
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Published by Elsevier B.V. Tropical cyclones (TCs) in the North Atlantic (NA) basin pose an annual risk to coastal regions, with hurricane Katrina (2005) the costliest TC in US history. This study employs K-means cluster analysis (CA) to detect the distinctive, important NA TC paths and lifecycles. Unlike previous TC cluster analyses, which examined TC tracks, the present work documents TC genesis and decay locations. Application of the silhouette coefficient provided an objective method to determine the optimal number of clusters (7 for genesis locations, 6 for preferred tracks, and 5 for decay locations). Additionally, silhouette coefficients provided the information necessary to remove storms that did not fit specific clusters, improving cluster cohesiveness. For TC genesis, K-means CA captured the separation between tropical and higher-latitude TCs. Clustering of genesis points identifies formative areas. The western NA cluster is the most active. TCs have distinct decay locations, notably in the western NA, Gulf of Mexico and western Caribbean Sea. Clustering TC tracks reveals that TCs moving to higher latitudes recurve generally, whereas Caribbean and Gulf coast TCs have straight-line tracks. Temporally, early season TC clusters form in the western Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and western NA. Midseason TC clusters shift eastward, extending from the tropical NA to Africa. Late season TC clusters recur in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and western NA.
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