The mechanical energy input to the ocean induced by tropical cyclones
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Wind stress and tidal dissipation are the most important sources of mechanical energy for maintaining the oceanic general circulation. The contribution of mechanical energy due to tropical cyclones can be a vitally important factor in regulating the oceanic general circulation and its variability. However, previous estimates of wind stress energy input were based on low-resolution wind stress data in which strong nonlinear events, such as tropical cyclones, were smoothed out. Using a hurricane–ocean coupled model constructed from an axisymmetric hurricane model and a three-layer ocean model, the rate of energy input to the world’s oceans induced by tropical cyclones over the period from 1984 to 2003 was estimated. The energy input is estimated as follows: 1.62 TW to the surface waves and 0.10 TW to the surface currents (including 0.03 TW to the near-inertial motions). The rate of gravitational potential energy increase due to tropical cyclones is 0.05 TW. Both the energy input from tropical cyclones and the increase of gravitational potential energy of the ocean show strong interannual and decadal variability with an increasing rate of 16% over the past 20 years. The annual mean diapycnal upwelling induced by tropical cyclones over the past 20 years is estimated as 39 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). Owing to tropical cyclones, diapycnal mixing in the upper ocean (below the mixed layer) is greatly enhanced. Within the regimes of strong activity of tropical cyclones, the increase of diapycnal diffusivity is on the order of (1 − 6) × 10−4 m2 s−1. The tropical cyclone–related energy input and diapycnal mixing may play an important role in climate variability, ecology, fishery, and environments.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2008. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 38 (2008): 1253-1266, doi:10.1175/2007JPO3786.1.
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