Tropical cyclones: impacts, the link to climate change and adaptation

Following the string of high-intensity tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin in 2017 and the devastating impacts on small island states, a number of questions have been raised about linkages between these cyclones and climate change.

This briefing, put together by IMPACT researchers including our Regional Scientist Paddy Pringle, and released during COP23 in Bonn, provides clarity on scientifically-supported connections between existing tropical cyclones and climate change.


Face to a name

Paddy Pringle
Regional Scientist

I work as a Regional Scientist based at the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), in Samoa. I have been working in the fields of climate change adaptation and international development for over ten years and this has taken me to a variety of countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Mostly recently I was Director of the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) at the University of Oxford where my work focused on supporting the connections between science, policy and practice in order to improve adaptation decision-making, including developing tools to support adaptation policy development and implementation. I hope these skills will help the IMPACT Project to develop resources that improve decision-making, policy and access to finance in the Pacific.

Being based at SPREP I am gaining valuable insight into key regional issues that IMPACT can help address. It also enables me to speak directly to those who are developing adaptation plans, policies and projects in the Pacific and to better understand their challenges and needs. I am lucky enough to be based on a beautiful campus in Samoa and to work with lots of like-minded people with a vast knowledge of the environmental challenges of the region.


Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

Our project partner in the Pacific, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), is the regional organisation established by the Governments and Administrations of the Pacific charged with protecting and managing the environment and natural resources of the Pacific. The head office is based in Apia, Samoa. Its mandate is to promote cooperation in the Pacific region and provide assistance in order to protect and improve its environment and to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations.

“The IMPACT project, led by Climate Analytics in partnership with SPREP, aims to strengthen the connections between the scientific assessments of climate impacts, vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation. It doing so, we believe it will provide the region with tools and capacities to make better use of knowledge in policies and projects and will enhance access to much needed climate finance. IMPACT also builds upon the highly successful High Level Support Mechanism, providing training for our region’s climate negotiators. This training can really help to increase the Pacific voice in the UNFCCC negotiations at the critical time of Fiji’s COP23 Presidency.”

Kosi Latu, Director General SPREP



Pacific Climate Change Portal

SPREP’s Pacific Climate Change Portal is a pool of Pacific climate resources. It allows you to search for case studies, adaptation plans and other documents; find out more about projects in your area; access detailed Pacific region data and country profiles; browse a donor database to find out more about donors in the area.


Project activities

Climate Science Digest

IMPACT is working with Griffith and Oxford Universities to set up a system to generate synthesised reviews of climate and adaptation science in a format that is accessible to practitioners and policymakers in Pacific and Caribbean SIDS.

Report on 1.5˚C impacts for the Marine Climate Change Report Card

IMPACT researchers produced a peer-reviewed paper highlighting the likely impacts of 1.5˚C and above on the marine and coastal Pacific to support the development of the Marine Climate Change Report Card produced by CEFAS, SPREP and USP.


Country request support

IMPACT receives many requests for support directly from countries in the Pacific region. Here are some recent examples of work in response to such requests:

  • Technical review of the Atmosphere & Climate chapter of the national State of the Environment Report (SOE) for Niue
  • Development of relevant indicators to track the Pacific Islands Meteorology Strategy (PIMS) as part of a workshop funded by DFAT and UNESCAP
  • Comment and technical review of Cocoa sector case study report
  • Participation in discussions on Blue Carbon and production of a Pacific briefing note to inform a clearer regional position

Blog Pacific

Preparing for the Suva Expert Dialogue – getting Loss and Damage right

By now it is clear that climate change is as much an economic problem as it is an environmental one. Rising temperatures slow economic growth and devastating climate-related impacts leave large negative imprints on economic development of developing countries. Most financial instruments that have been proposed in the context of loss and damage do not solve the problems developing countries face.  
26 January 2018

Big change after the big storm: Post-disaster transformative adaptation in Small Island Developing States

Presenting a disaster as an ‘opportunity’ is clearly a sensitive and emotive issue. But when an energy infrastructure is in tatters should we not view this as a chance to make a fundamental transition to a low carbon future? When will there be a better opportunity to relocate essential services away from high risk areas than when they need rebuilding? When do we consider what we truly value more than when we have suffered loss?  
02 November 2017

Relevant recent publications

Following the string of high intensity tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin in 2017 and the devastating impacts on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a number of questions have been raised about linkages between these cyclones and climate change. This briefing provides clarity on scientifically-supported connections between existing tropical cyclones and climate change. The briefing also summarises how climate change may affect tropical cyclones at increased global mean temperatures in the future and provides a summary of the observed socio-economic impacts of these extreme events on SIDS.