Climate Dynamics

, Volume 43, Issue 9–10, pp 2831–2854 | Cite as

Ocean feedback to tropical cyclones: climatology and processes

  • Swen Jullien
  • Patrick Marchesiello
  • Christophe E. Menkes
  • Jérôme Lefèvre
  • Nicolas C. Jourdain
  • Guillaume Samson
  • Matthieu Lengaigne


This study presents the first multidecadal and coupled regional simulation of cyclonic activity in the South Pacific. The long-term integration of state-of the art models provides reliable statistics, missing in usual event studies, of air–sea coupling processes controlling tropical cyclone (TC) intensity. The coupling effect is analyzed through comparison of the coupled model with a companion forced experiment. Cyclogenesis patterns in the coupled model are closer to observations with reduced cyclogenesis in the Coral Sea. This provides novel evidence of air–sea coupling impacting not only intensity but also spatial cyclogenesis distribution. Storm-induced cooling and consequent negative feedback is stronger for regions of shallow mixed layers and thin or absent barrier layers as in the Coral Sea. The statistical effect of oceanic mesoscale eddies on TC intensity (crossing over them 20 % of the time) is also evidenced. Anticyclonic eddies provide an insulating effect against storm-induced upwelling and mixing and appear to reduce sea surface temperature (SST) cooling. Cyclonic eddies on the contrary tend to promote strong cooling, particularly through storm-induced upwelling. Air–sea coupling is shown to have a significant role on the intensification process but the sensitivity of TCs to SST cooling is nonlinear and generally lower than predicted by thermodynamic theories: about 15 rather than over 30 hPa °C−1 and only for strong cooling. The reason is that the cooling effect is not instantaneous but accumulated over time within the TC inner-core. These results thus contradict the classical evaporation-wind feedback process as being essential to intensification and rather emphasize the role of macro-scale dynamics.


Tropical cyclones Air-sea coupling Modeling 



The simulations of this study were conducted with HPC resources from the Computing Center of Region Midi-Pyrénées (CALMIP, Toulouse, France; Grants 2011, 2012, 2013—Project 1044). We also thanks Alexis Chaigneau for his help on the ocean eddy tracking procedure; Florian Lemarié for his coupling algorithm and helpful discussions; and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Swen Jullien
    • 1
  • Patrick Marchesiello
    • 1
  • Christophe E. Menkes
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jérôme Lefèvre
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nicolas C. Jourdain
    • 5
    • 6
  • Guillaume Samson
    • 1
  • Matthieu Lengaigne
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales, IRD/CNRS/University of ToulouseToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Sorbonne Universités (UPMC, Univ Paris 06)-CNRS-IRD-MNHN, LOCEAN Laboratory, IPSLParisFrance
  3. 3.IRDNouméaNew Caledonia
  4. 4.Indo-French Cell for Water Sciences, IISc-NIO-IITM–IRD Joint International Laboratory, NIOGoaIndia
  5. 5.CIimate Change Research Centre, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement, Université de Grenoble / Centre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueGrenobleFrance

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