Disturbance has become the focus of intense interest in ecology,1 –6
as part of a shift from focus on average conditions to a fuller appreciation of the dynamics of natural systems. Disturbance also – almost by definition – implies longer time scales, with different disturbance regimes associated with different time spans.7
This new focus on extreme events on longer time scales becomes still more relevant in view of outputs of general circulation models that indicate that future climates may be characterized by more extreme and frequent extreme events.8
An important, large-scale agent of disturbance in many marine and coastal systems are typhoons and hurricanes,9
many of which cross the world's oceans each year. Even though typhoon-disturbance-adaptation is well-documented in many ecosystems,10 ,11
incorporation of these unpredictable and episodic events into broader-scale, regional analyses and analyses of geographic distributions of species has been minimal or lacking. As such, here, we present datasets synthesizing typhoon frequency and intensity across the Western Pacific north of the Equator, based on a dataset that spans 63 years.
This dataset is rather unusual in that it summarizes large-scale disturbance frequency and intensity on a near-hemispheric scale. We are intrigued with region-to-region differences in typhoon-mediated disturbance, beyond the well-known tropical and subtropical concentration of these storms. That is, for example, we note strong contrasts between the central and northern Philippines versus the southern Philippines in terms of typhoon frequency. The striking contrast in typhoon frequency across such a relatively restricted set of latitudes has important implications in terms of forest dynamics, dispersal opportunities, and extinction probabilities for species. We failed to detect clear temporal trends in typhoon characteristics that might relate to climate change processes occurring globally.