Spatial and temporal characterization of sea surface temperature response to tropical cyclones

TitleSpatial and temporal characterization of sea surface temperature response to tropical cyclones
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMei W, Pasquero C
JournalJournal of Climate
Date Published2013/06
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0894-8755
Accession NumberWOS:000319739300016
Keywordsboundary-layer; exchange; felix; hurricane gilbert; intensity; part i; resolution coupled model; simulations; thermal structure; upper ocean response

The spatial structure and temporal evolution of the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly (SSTA) associated with the passage of tropical cyclones (TCs), as well as their sensitivity to TC characteristics (including TC intensity and translation speed) and oceanic climatological conditions (represented here by latitude), are thoroughly examined by means of composite analysis using satellite-derived SST data. The magnitude of the TC-generated SSTA is larger for more intense, slower-moving, and higher-latitude TCs, and it occurs earlier in time for faster-moving and higher-latitude storms. The location of maximum SSTA is farther off the TC track for faster-moving storms, and it moves toward the track with time after the TC passage. The spatial extension of the cold wake is greater for more intense and for slower-moving storms, but its shape is quite independent of TC characteristics. Consistent with previous studies, the calculations show that the mean SSTA over a TC-centered box nearly linearly correlates with the wind speed for TCs below category 3 intensity while for stronger TCs the SSTA levels off, both for tropical and subtropical regions. While the linear behavior is expected on the basis of the more vigorous mixing induced by stronger winds and is derived from a simple mixed-layer model, the level-off for intense TCs is discussed in terms of the dependence of the maximum amplitude of the area-mean SSTA on TC translation speed and depth of the prestorm mixed layer. Finally, the decay time scale of the TC-induced SSTA is shown to be dominated by environmental conditions and has no clear dependence on its initial magnitude and on TC characteristics.