The sensitivity of upper thermocline properties, and global climate, to tropical cyclone (TC) winds is examined using global ocean and atmosphere general circulation models. We combine seven years of global, satellite-based TC wind records with a standard surface wind input data set derived from reanalysis, and we apply idealized factors to TC winds in order to model the ocean's equilibrium response to increases in TC intensities. We find TC-induced vertical ocean mixing impacts upper thermocline properties, such as temperature and mixed layer depth, and the effects are amplified for increasing intensities. The model's ocean heat transport is also affected, but only when TC winds are increased substantially compared to present-day values. Atmospheric model simulations show altered ocean temperature can lead to changes in the mean Hadley circulation. Results suggest increased TC activity may affect global climate by altering the ocean's thermal structure, which could be important for large scale ocean-atmosphere feedbacks.


Manuscript Received: 8 February 2010

Manuscript Accepted: 22 March 2010

Version of record online: 23 April 2010

Sriver, R. L., and M. Huber (2010), Modeled sensitivity of upper thermocline properties to tropical cyclone winds and possible feedbacks on the Hadley circulation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L08704, doi:10.1029/2010GL042836.


climate dynamics, tropical cyclones, ocean-atmosphere interactions

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