Climate Dynamics

, Volume 40, Issue 5–6, pp 1515–1529 | Cite as

Influence of local and remote SST on North Atlantic tropical cyclone potential intensity

  • Suzana J. CamargoEmail author
  • Mingfang Ting
  • Yochanan Kushnir


We examine the role of local and remote sea surface temperature (SST) on the tropical cyclone potential intensity in the North Atlantic using a suite of model simulations, while separating the impact of anthropogenic (external) forcing and the internal influence of Atlantic Multidecadal Variability. To enable the separation by SST region of influence we use an ensemble of global atmospheric climate model simulations forced with historical, 1856–2006 full global SSTs, and compare the results to two other simulations with historical SSTs confined to the tropical Atlantic and to the tropical Indian Ocean and Pacific. The effects of anthropogenic plus other external forcing and that of internal variability are separated by using a linear, “signal-to-noise” maximizing EOF analysis and by projecting the three model ensemble outputs onto the respective external forcing and internal variability time series. Consistent with previous results indicating a tampering influence of global tropical warming on the Atlantic hurricane potential intensity, our results show that non-local SST tends to reduce potential intensity associated with locally forced warming through changing the upper level atmospheric temperatures. Our results further indicate that the late twentieth Century increase in North Atlantic potential intensity, may not have been dominated by anthropogenic influence but rather by internal variability.


Sea surface temperature Potential intensity Hurricanes Local and remote effects 



The authors acknowledge support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Grants NA08OAR4320912, NA10OAR4310124 and NA10OAR4320137. We would like to thank Donna Lee and Naomi Naik (LDEO) for performing the CCM3 simulations used in this study. The authors would like to thank the Global Decadal Hydroclimate group at Lamont and Columbia for helpful discussion and input and two anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions and comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzana J. Camargo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mingfang Ting
    • 1
  • Yochanan Kushnir
    • 1
  1. 1.Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA

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