Stronger Tropical Cyclone–Induced Ocean Cooling in Near-Coastal Regions Compared to the Open Ocean
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Stronger Tropical Cyclone–Induced Ocean Cooling in Near-Coastal Regions Compared to the Open Ocean

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Climate
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  • Description:
    Tropical cyclones (TC) often induce strong mixing in the upper ocean that generates a trail of cooler sea surface temperature (Twake) in their wakes. The Twake can affect TC intensity, so its prediction is important, especially in coastal regions where TCs can make landfall. Coastal Twakes are often more complex than those in the open ocean due to the influences of coastline geometry, highly variable water depth, continental runoff, and shelf processes. Using observational data since 2002, here we show a significantly stronger global mean Twake in coastal regions compared to offshore regions. Temperature stratification is the main driver of stronger coastal Twakes in the North Atlantic and east Pacific. In the northwest Pacific and north Indian Ocean, the differences between coastal and offshore Twakes are smaller due to compensation between TC forcings and ocean stratification. The north Indian Ocean is unique in the Northern Hemisphere because salinity stratification plays a major role on the spatial distribution of Twake. In the South Pacific Ocean, TC intensity and translation speed are crucial for explaining coastal–offshore Twake differences, while ocean stratification and mixed layer depth are more important for the coastal–offshore Twake differences in the south Indian Ocean. These findings suggest that coastal–offshore differences in ocean stratification need to be properly represented in models in order to capture changes in TC-induced ocean cooling as storms approach landfall. Significance Statement Landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) often cause considerable damage in coastal regions with dense human populations. Understanding TC–ocean interaction and how it differs between coastal and offshore regions can help predict TC intensity prior to landfall. Sea surface cooling after TC passage is an important proxy for TC–ocean interaction. A global evaluation of coastal TC-induced cooling has not been conducted. Using data covering two decades, we show significantly stronger TC-induced surface cooling in coastal regions compared to offshore regions at the global scale and in all basins except the northwest Pacific and north Indian Ocean. The difference is driven mainly by upper-ocean conditions in the North Atlantic, east Pacific, and south Indian Ocean, and by TC characteristics in the South Pacific.
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    Journal of Climate, 36(18), 6447-6463
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    0894-8755;1520-0442;
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    Submitted
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