Is tropical cyclone surge, not intensity, what kills so many people in south Asia?

S. Niggol Seo, Laura A. Bakkensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This paper statistically examines the hypothesis that the level of storm surge, not storm intensity, is primarily responsible for the large number of tropical cyclone fatalities in SouthAsia. Because the potential causal link between intensity and surge can confound statistical inference, the authors develop two fatality models using different assumptions on the relationship between storm surge and intensity. The authors find evidence that storm surge is a primary killer of people in South Asia relative to storm intensity. In a surge- pressure independence model, it is found that a 10-cm increase in storm surge results in a 14% increase in the number of fatalities. In a surge-pressure dependence model, a 10-cm increase in the level of surge not driven by minimumcentral pressure (MCP) leads to 9.9%increase in the number of fatalities. By contrast, a one-millibar (1 hPa) decrease in MCP leads to a 7.3% increase in the number of fatalities, some of which is also attributable to storm surge. In South Asia, adaptation strategies should target a higher level of storm surge instead of higher-intensity storms. Policies to combat surge include permanent relocation, temporary evacuation, changes in building structures, and coastal fortification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Is tropical cyclone surge, not intensity, what kills so many people in south Asia?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this