Impact of tropical cyclones on the global ocean: Results from multidecadal global ocean simulations isolating tropical cyclone forcing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Tropical cyclone (TC)-induced ocean vertical mixing can alter the upper-ocean temperature structure, influencing ocean heat content variability and meridional ocean heat transport. TC-ocean interactions can influence tropical variability on seasonal to interannual time scales. Here the impacts of TCs on the global ocean and the associated feedbacks are investigated using a hierarchy of high-resolution global ocean model simulations featuring the Community Earth System Model (CESM). The aim is to understand the potential impact of the model's self-generated transient TC events on the modeled global ocean. Two ocean-only simulations are performed using the atmosphere boundary conditions from a fully coupled preindustrial CESM simulation configured with 0.25° atmosphere resolution and the nominal 1° ocean resolution (with ~0.25° meridional resolution in the tropics). The high-resolution coupled model is capable of directly simulating TC events with wind structure and climatology generally consistent with observations. TC effects at the ocean-atmosphere boundary are filtered out in one of the ocean simulations (OCN_FILT) while fully retained in the other (OCN_TC) in order to isolate the effect of the TCs on regional and global ocean variability across multiple time scales (from intraseasonal to interdecadal). Results show that the model-simulated TCs can 1) alter surface and subsurface ocean temperature patterns and variability; 2) affect ocean energetics, including increasing ocean mixed layer depth and strengthening subtropical gyre and meridional overturning circulations; and 3) influence ocean meridional heat transport and ocean heat content from seasonal to interannual time scales. Results help provide insights into the model behavior and the physical nature of the effect of TCs within the Earth system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8761-8784
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Atmosphere-ocean interaction
  • Climate models
  • Climate variability
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Ocean dynamics
  • Ocean models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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