National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory CoastWatch HomePage

Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential


The intensification of tropical cyclones involves a combination of different favorable atmospheric conditions such as atmospheric trough interactions and vertical shear, which lead to good outflow conditions aloft. As a result of this, inflow conditions in the near-surface layer are enhanced. Clearly, as this process continues over the scale of the storm, the upper ocean provides the heat to the atmospheric boundary layer and the deepening process. In this scenario, the upper ocean thermal structure has been thought to be a parameter that only played a marginal role in tropical cyclone intensification. However, after a series of events where the sudden intensification of tropical cyclones occurred when their path passed over oceanic warm features, it is now being speculated that it could be otherwise. While the investigation of the role of these rings and eddies is a topic of research in a very early stage, preliminary results have shown their importance in the intensification of hurricane Opal (Shay et al, 2000). Therefore, the monitoring of the upper ocean thermal structure has become a key element in the study of hurricane-ocean interaction with respect to the prediction of sudden tropical cyclone intensification. These warm features, mainly anticyclonic rings and eddies shed by the Loop Current, are characterized by a deepening of several tens of meters of the isotherms towards their centers and with different temperature and salinity structure than the surrounding waters.

TCHP in Google Earth.You must have GE installed

TCHP in Google Earth Google Earth File. You must have GE installed