Master Thesis Defense by Matea Elise Marinkovic

Thesis Title: Tropical Cyclones in the Southwest Indian Ocean and Their Impacts on Vanilla Cultivation in Madagascar

Tropical cyclones (TCs) are some of the most destructive weather-related atmospheric features, responsible for significant impacts by way of strong winds, heavy precipitation, storm surges and flooding to the areas that they impact. This study examines the future trends of TCs in the Southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) region under a changing climate and assesses their impacts on vanilla agriculture in Madagascar in particular. TC tracks calculated with a tracking algorithm from model simulations and observational data is used to for comparison. Calculated TC tracks are verified against model output to confirm TC track identification. Statistical analysis is conducted to evaluate trends in the frequency, intensity, and duration of TCs under a future climate, as well as mean sea level pressure as an indicator of normalized damage. The study finds agreement with global trends of increasing TC intensity and duration but with uncertainties due to methodological limitations and model resolution challenges. The results suggest that higher-intensity TCs and prolonged exposure to extreme weather pose risks to coastal communities and agriculture in the SWIO, particularly vanilla production in Madagascar. To improve the analysis, incorporating more models at higher resolutions, and considering natural variability factors is recommended.

Supervisor: Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen 
Censor: Martin Drews, DTU