Tropical cyclones have been hypothesized to influence climate by pumping heat into the ocean, but a direct measure of this warming effect is still lacking. We quantified cyclone-induced ocean warming by directly monitoring the thermal expansion of water in the wake of cyclones, using satellite-based sea surface height data that provide a unique way of tracking the changes in ocean heat content on seasonal and longer timescales. We find that the long-term effect of cyclones is to warm the ocean at a rate of 0.32 ± 0.15 PW between 1993 and 2009, i.e., ∼23 times more efficiently per unit area than the background equatorial warming, making cyclones potentially important modulators of the climate by affecting heat transport in the ocean-atmosphere system. Furthermore, our analysis reveals that the rate of warming increases with cyclone intensity. This, together with a predicted shift in the distribution of cyclones toward higher intensities as climate warms, suggests the ocean will get even warmer, possibly leading to a positive feedback.

Mei, W., Primeau, F., Mcwilliams, J., Pasquero, C. (2013). Sea surface height evidence for long-term warming effects of tropical cyclones on the ocean. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 110(38), 15207-15210 [10.1073/pnas.1306753110].

Sea surface height evidence for long-term warming effects of tropical cyclones on the ocean

PASQUERO, CLAUDIA
Ultimo
2013

Abstract

Tropical cyclones have been hypothesized to influence climate by pumping heat into the ocean, but a direct measure of this warming effect is still lacking. We quantified cyclone-induced ocean warming by directly monitoring the thermal expansion of water in the wake of cyclones, using satellite-based sea surface height data that provide a unique way of tracking the changes in ocean heat content on seasonal and longer timescales. We find that the long-term effect of cyclones is to warm the ocean at a rate of 0.32 ± 0.15 PW between 1993 and 2009, i.e., ∼23 times more efficiently per unit area than the background equatorial warming, making cyclones potentially important modulators of the climate by affecting heat transport in the ocean-atmosphere system. Furthermore, our analysis reveals that the rate of warming increases with cyclone intensity. This, together with a predicted shift in the distribution of cyclones toward higher intensities as climate warms, suggests the ocean will get even warmer, possibly leading to a positive feedback.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Cyclonic Storms; Global Warming; Observation; Oceans and Seas; Temperature; Models, Theoretical; Water Movements; Multidisciplinary
English
2013
110
38
15207
15210
none
Mei, W., Primeau, F., Mcwilliams, J., Pasquero, C. (2013). Sea surface height evidence for long-term warming effects of tropical cyclones on the ocean. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 110(38), 15207-15210 [10.1073/pnas.1306753110].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/56239
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