Revising evidence of hurricane strikes on Abaco Island (The Bahamas) over the last 700 years
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The northern Bahamas have experienced more frequent intense-hurricane impacts than almost anywhere else in the Atlantic since 1850 CE. In 2019, category 5 (Saffir-Simpson scale) Hurricane Dorian demonstrated the destructive potential of these natural hazards. Problematically, determining whether high hurricane activity levels remained constant through time is difficult given the short observational record (< 170 years). We present a 700-year long, near-annually resolved stratigraphic record of hurricane passage near Thatchpoint Blue Hole (TPBH) on Abaco Island, The Bahamas. Using longer sediment cores (888 cm) and more reliable age-control, this study revises and temporally expands a previous study from TPBH that underestimated the sedimentation rate. TPBH records at least 13 ≥ category 2 hurricanes per century between 1500 to 1670 CE, which exceeds the 9 ≥ category 2 hurricanes per century within 50 km of TPBH since 1850 CE. The eastern United States also experienced frequent hurricanes from 1500 to 1670 CE, but frequency was depressed elsewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. This suggests that spatial heterogeneity in Atlantic hurricane activity since 1850 CE could have persisted throughout the last millennium. This heterogeneity is impacted by climatic and stochastic forcing, but additional high-resolution paleo-hurricane reconstructions are required to assess the mechanisms that impact regional variability.
author list (cited authors)
Winkler, T. S., van Hengstum, P. J., Donnelly, J. P., Wallace, E. J., Sullivan, R. M., MacDonald, D., & Albury, N. A.