AIR Worldwide Presents New Research on Hurricanes and Climate at International Summit

BOSTON, July 9, 2007 – AIR Worldwide Corporation’s (AIR) Dr. Peter Dailey presented AIR’s near-term hurricane risk methodology and related research to an audience of leading climate scientists and meteorologists at the 1st International Summit on Hurricanes and Climate Change held in Hersonissos, Crete, in May 2007.

“AIR continues to be at the leading edge of research on hurricane risk as it relates to the impact of climate signals on landfall frequency,” said Dailey, director of atmospheric sciences at AIR. “The exciting news coming out of Crete is that the wider scientific community is also now beginning to focus on how potentially increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin may translate to activity along the U.S. coast.”

During his presentation, Dr. Dailey discussed the statistical analysis undertaken by AIR to develop a near-term view of hurricane risk. The catalog is conditioned on the assumption that sea surface temperatures (SSTs) will likely remain elevated above the long-term average for the next several years. An index of hurricane risk is constructed by hurricane intensity and by coastal region. On average, the near-term landfall risk represents an approximate ten percent increase over the long-term landfall risk for the U.S., with the largest relative increase in the southeast.

AIR also presented preliminary findings from a hybrid physical-statistical storm track model that it is developing as a complement to its ongoing statistical analysis. The current research is examining where storms form in the North Atlantic under conditions of warm SSTs and to what extent the genesis location impacts the probability of landfall.

“The effect of climate on tropical cyclone activity is complex,” said Dailey. “Various climate signals, as well as naturally occurring feedback mechanisms, affect the likelihood of storms forming and intensifying into hurricanes and the nature of their track—and sometimes these effects compete with one another. In 2006, for example, the onset of mild to moderate El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific led to increased wind shear in the Atlantic, which is detrimental to hurricane development. In addition, storms over Africa's Sahara Desert carried significant amounts of dry, dusty air westward over the Atlantic Ocean, depriving incipient tropical cyclones the moisture and heat they need to mature.”

AIR employs a staff of meteorologists and climate scientists to conduct research and evaluate the latest scientific literature on climate and its effect on hurricane activity. The methodology used to develop the 2007 near term catalog was peer reviewed by Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT, Dr. Timothy Hall of NASA, and Dr. James Elsner of Florida State University, who co-organized the summit in Crete.

In his review, Dr. Emanuel stated that AIR follows a “wise strategy, allowing one to make inferences about the effect of very basic SST variability on hurricane activity without unduly stressing the statistical significance of results based on the limited best track data.” Dr. Hall added, “I agree with AIR’s decision to switch from a Sea Surface Temperature (SST) point forecast to a category forecast (warmer vs. colder).  SST has a significant influence on tropical cyclone landfall rates, but the forecasts are not reliable enough to warrant precision beyond broad categories. Overall, I judge AIR’s North American tropical cyclone analysis to be sound and of high quality.”

“A big advantage of AIR’s approach is that it is entirely reproducible,” said Dailey. “The data is in the public domain and the analytical techniques used are well-known and well-accepted. That means that it can be peer reviewed and presented at scientific forums like the Summit. Our clients expect rigorous and quantifiable science from us, and we are committed to remaining on the cutting edge in this field.”

About AIR Worldwide Corporation
AIR Worldwide Corporation (AIR) is a leading risk modeling company helping clients manage the financial impact of catastrophes and weather. Utilizing the latest science and technology, AIR models natural catastrophes in more than 40 countries and the risk from terrorism in the United States. Other areas of expertise include site-specific seismic engineering analysis, catastrophe bonds, and property replacement cost valuation. An ISO business, AIR was founded in 1987 to provide its insurance, reinsurance, corporate, and government clients a complete line of risk modeling software and consulting services that produce consistent and reliable results. Headquartered in Boston, AIR has additional offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information, please visit www.air-worldwide.com.

Release: Immediate

Contacts:
Giuseppe Barone / Erica Helton
MWW Group (for ISO)
201-507-9500
gbarone@mww.com / ehelton@mww.com

Kevin Long (AIR)
617-267-6645
klong@air-worldwide.com

Archived Press