, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 427-447

Importance of tropical cyclone heat potential for tropical cyclone intensity and intensification in the Western North Pacific

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Abstract

Which is more important for tropical cyclone (TC) intensity and intensification, sea surface temperature (SST) or tropical cyclone heat potential (TCHP)? Investigations using best-track TC central pressures, TRMM/TMI three-day mean SST data, and an estimated TCHP based on oceanic reanalysis data from 1998 to 2004, show that the central pressure is more closely related to TCHP accumulated from TC formation to its mature stages than to the accumulated SST and its duration. From an oceanic environmental viewpoint, a rapid deepening of TC central pressure occurs when TCHP is relatively high on a basin scale, while composite distributions of TCHP, vertical wind shear, lower tropospheric relative humidity, and wind speed occurring in cases of rapid intensification are different for each TC season. In order to explore the influence of TCHP on TC intensity and intensification, analyses using both oceanic reanalysis data and the results of numerical simulations based on an ocean general circulation model are performed for the cases of Typhoons Chaba (2004) and Songda (2004), which took similar tracks. The decrease in TCHP due to the passage of Chaba led to the suppression of Songda’s intensity at the mature stage, while Songda maintained its intensity for a relatively long time because induced near-inertial currents due to the passage of Chaba reproduced anticyclonic warm eddies appearing on the leftside of Chaba’s track before Songda passed by. This type of intensity-sustenance process caused by the passage of a preceding TC is often found in El Niño years. These results suggest that TCHP, but not SST, plays an important role in TC intensity and its intensification.