Mesoscale and submesoscale mechanisms behind asymmetric cooling and phytoplankton blooms induced by hurricanes: a comparison between an open ocean case and a continental shelf sea case

  • Laura McGee
  • Ruoying He


Right-side bias in both sea surface cooling and phytoplankton blooms is often observed in the wake of hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere. This idealized hurricane modeling study uses a coupled biological-physical model to understand the underlying mechanisms behind hurricane-induced cooling and phytoplankton bloom asymmetry. Both a deep ocean case and a continental shelf sea case are considered and contrasted. Model analyses show that while right-side asymmetric mixing due to inertial oscillations and restratification from strong right-side recirculation cells contributes to bloom asymmetry in the open ocean, the well-mixed condition in the continental shelf sea inhibits formation of recirculation cells, and the convergence of water onto the shelf is a more important process for bloom asymmetry.


Mesoscale, submesoscale ocean dynamics Asymmetric cooling and phytoplankton blooms Hurricane 



Research support provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant NA11NOS0120033, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grants NNX12AP84G and NNX13AD80G, Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative/GISR through grant 02-S130202, and NC Sea Grant/Space Grant fellowship to L. McGee are much appreciated. The authors thank Dr. John Warner (USGS), Drs. Stu Bishop and Astrid Schnetzer (NCSU) for their valuable comments and suggestions, and J. Warrillow for her editorial assistance.

Funding information

This research received support provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant NA11NOS0120033, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grants NNX12AP84G and NNX13AD80G, Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative/GISR through grant 02-S130202, and NC Sea Grant/Space Grant fellowship.


  1. Allahdadi MN, Li C (2017) Numerical simulation of Louisiana shelf circulation under Hurricane Katrina. J Coast Res 34(1):67–80. Google Scholar
  2. Anderson DLT, Gill AE (1979) Beta dispersion of inertial waves. J Geophys Res Oceans 84(C4):1836–1842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Babin SM, Carton JA, Dickey TD, Wiggert JD (2004) Satellite evidence of hurricane-induced phytoplankton blooms in an oceanic desert. J Geophys Res: Oceans 109:C03043. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bates NR, Knap AH, Michaels AF (1998) Contribution of hurricanes to local and global estimates of air-sea exchange of CO2. Nature 395:58–61. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. BBC Business (2017) Hurricane Irma: Florida assesses damage as storm weakens. BBC News. Accessed 1 October 2017
  6. Bond NA, Cronin MF, Sabine C, Kawai Y, Ichikawa H, Freitag P, Ronnholm K (2011) Upper ocean response to typhoon Choi-Wan as measured by the Kuroshio Extension Observatory mooring. J Geophys Res 116:C02031. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chang SW, Anthes RA (1978) Numerical simulations of the ocean's nonlinear, baroclinic response to translating hurricanes. J Phys Oceanogr 8(3):468–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooper C, Thompson JD (1989) Hurricane-generated currents on the outer continental shelf. 1. Model formulation and verification. J Geophys Res: Oceans 94(C9):12513–12539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Doney SC, Glover DM, Najjar RG (1995) A new coupled, one-dimensional biological-physical model for the upper ocean: applications to the JGOFS Bermuda Atlantic time-series study (BATS) site. Deep-Sea Res II 43(2–3):591–624Google Scholar
  10. Emanuel KA (1999) Thermodynamic control of hurricane intensity. Nature 401:665–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fennel K, Wilkin J, Levin J, Moisan J, O'Reilly J, Haidvogel D (2006) Nitrogen cycling in the middle Atlantic bight: results from a three-dimensional model and implications for the North Atlantic nitrogen budget. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 20(3):GB3007. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fennel K, Wilkin J, Previdi M, Najjar R (2008) Denitrification effects on air-sea CO2 flux in the coastal ocean: simulations for the Northwest North Atlantic. Geophys Res Lett 35(24):L24608. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Friedman N (2017) Hurricane Maria caused as much as $85 billion in insured losses, AIR Worldwide Says. The Wall Street Journal. Accessed 1 October 2017
  14. George C, Kadifa M, Ellis L, et al (2017) Storm deaths: Harvey claims lives of more than 75 in Texas. Houston Chronicle ( Accessed 1 October 2017
  15. Gierach MM, Subrahmanyam B (2008) Biophysical responses of the upper ocean to major Gulf of Mexico hurricanes in 2005. J Geophys Res 113:C04029. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haidvogel DB, Arango H, Budgell WP, Cornuelle BD, Curchitser E, di Lorenzo E, Fennel K, Geyer WR, Hermann AJ, Lanerolle L, Levin J, McWilliams JC, Miller AJ, Moore AM, Powell TM, Shchepetkin AF, Sherwood CR, Signell RP, Warner JC, Wilkin J (2008) Ocean forecasting in terrain-following coordinates: formulation and skill assessment of the regional ocean modeling system. J Comput Phys 227:3595–3624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haine TN, Marshall J (1998) Gravitational, symmetric, and baroclinic instability of the ocean mixed layer. J Phys Oceanogr 28:634–658.<0634:GSABIO>2.0.CO;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Holland GJ (1980) An analytic model of the wind and pressure profiles in hurricanes. Mon Weather Rev 108:1212–1218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huang P, Imberger J (2010) Variation of pCO2 in ocean surface water in response to the passage of a hurricane. J Geophys Res: Oceans 115:C10024. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huang S-M, Oey L-Y (2015) Right-side cooling and phytoplankton bloom in the wake of a tropical cyclone. J Geophys Res: Oceans 120:5735–5748. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huisman J, van Oostveen P, Weissing FJ (1999) Critical depth and critical turbulence: two different mechanisms for the development of phytoplankton blooms. Limnol Oceanogr 44(7):1781–1787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hyun KH, He R (2010) Coastal upwelling in the South Atlantic Bight: a revisit of the 2003 cold event using long term observations and model hindcast solutions. J Mar Syst 83:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kantha LH, Clayson CA (1994) An improved mixed layer model for geophysical applications. J Geophys Res 99:25235–25266. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Koch J, McKinley GA, Bennington V, Ullman D (2009) Do hurricanes cause significant interannual variability in the air-sea CO2 flux of the subtropical North Atlantic? Geophys Res Lett 36:L07606. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kunze E (1985) Near-inertial wave propagation in geostrophic shear. J Phys Oceanogr 15:544–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lee D (2017) Harvey is likely to be the second-most costly natural disaster in U.S. history. Los Angeles Times. Accessed 1 October 2017
  27. Lin I, Liu WT, Wu C-C et al. (2003) New evidence for enhanced ocean primary production triggered by tropical cyclone. Geophys Res Lett 30(13).
  28. Mahadevan A, Tagliabue A, Bopp L, Lenton A, Memery L, Levy M (2011) Impact of episodic vertical fluxes on sea surface pCO2. Philos Trans R Soc A Math Phys Eng Sci 369:2009–2025. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marra J, Bidigare RR, Dickey TD (1990) Nutrients and mixing, chlorophyll and phytoplankton growth. Deep-Sea Res 37:127–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mitchell DA, Teague WJ, Jaroz E, Wang DW (2005) Observed currents over the outer continental shelf during hurricane Ivan. Geophys Res Lett 32.
  31. Nemoto K, Midorikawa T, Wada A et al (2009) Continuous observations of atmospheric and oceanic CO2 using a moored buoy in the East China Sea: variations during the passage of typhoons. Deep-Sea Res II Top Stud Oceanogr 56:542–553. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Oey L-Y, Ezer T, Wang D-P et al (2006) Loop current warming by hurricane Wilma. Geophys Res Lett 35:L12604. Google Scholar
  33. Oey L-Y, Inoue M, Lai R et al (2008) Stalling of near-inertial waves in a cyclone. Geophys Res Lett 35:L12604. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pascual OS (2017) Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico is higher than official count, experts say. Miami Herald. Accessed 1 October 2017
  35. Platt T, Sathyendranath S (1988) Oceanic primary production: estimation by remote sensing at local and regional scales. Science 241(4873):1613–1620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Powell MD, Vlckery PJ, Relnhold TA (2003) Reduced drag coefficient for high wind speeds in tropical cyclones. Nature 422:279–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Powell TM, Lewis CVW, Curchitser EN et al (2006) Results from a three-dimensional, nested biological-physical model of the California Current System and comparisons with statistics from satellite imagery. J Geophys Res 11:C07018. Google Scholar
  38. Price JF (1981) Upper ocean response to a hurricane. J Phys Oceanogr 11:153–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rabin C (2017) Unofficial death toll from Hurricane Irma now stands at 75 across the state. Miami Herald. Accessed 1 October 2017
  40. Rice D (2017) Harvey to be costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, estimated cost of $190 billion. USA Today. Accessed 1 October 2017
  41. Sathyendranath S, Longhurst A, Caverhill CM et al (1995) Regionally and seasonally differentiated primary production in the North Atlantic. Deep-Sea Res 42(10):1773–1802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sheng J, Zhai X, Greatbatch RJ (2006) Numerical study of the storm-induced circulation on the Scotian shelf during Hurricane Juan using a nested-grid ocean model. Prog Oceanogr 70:233–254. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shi W, Wang M (2007) Observations of a Hurricane Katrina-induced phytoplankton bloom in the Gulf of Mexico. Geophys Res Lett 34:611607. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Son S, Platt T, Bouman H et al (2006) Satellite observation of chlorophyll and nutrients increase induced by Typhoon Megi in the Japan/East Sea. Geophys Res Lett 33:L05607. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spitz YH, Newberger PA, Allen JS (2003) Ecosystem response to upwelling off the Oregon coast: Behavior of three nitrogen-based models. J Geophys Res 108(C3).
  46. Subrahmanyam B, Rao KH, Srinivasa Rao N et al (2002) Influence of a tropical cyclone on chlorophyll-a concentration in the Arabian Sea. Geophys Res Lett 29(22):2065–22-4. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. The Associated Press (2017) Hurricane Maria death toll rises as storm kicks up ocean on the coast. Orlando Sentinel wwworlandosentinelcom/weather/hurricane/os-hurricane-maria-dominica-death-toll-20170925-storyhtml Access 1 October 2017
  48. Thomas LN (2005) Destruction of potential vorticity by winds. J Phys Oceanogr 35(12):2457–2466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tsuchiya K, Yoshiki T, Nakajima R et al (2013) Typhoon-driven variations in primary production and phytoplankton assemblages in Sagami Bay, Japan: a case study of typhoon Mawar (T0511). Plankton Benthos Res 8(2):74–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Umlauf L, Burchard H (2003) A generic length-scale equation for geophysical turbulence models. J Mar Res 61:235–265. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Walker ND, Leben RR, Pilley CT et al (2014) Slow translation speed causes rapid collapse of Northeast Pacific Hurricane Kenneth over cold core eddy: Northeast Pacific hurricane collapses. Geophys Res Lett 41:7595–7601. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Warner JC, Sherwood CR, Arango HG et al (2005) Performance of four turbulence closure methods implemented using a generic length scale method. Ocean Model 8:81–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Warner JC, Armstrong B, He R, Zambon JB (2010) Development of a coupled ocean–atmosphere–wave–sediment transport (COAWST) modeling system. Ocean Model 35:230–244. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wroblewski JS (1989) A model of the spring bloom in the North Atlantic and its impact on ocean optics. Limnol Oceanogr 34(8):1563–1571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Xue Z, He R, Fennel K et al (2016) Modeling pCO2 variability in the Gulf of Mexico. Biogeosciences 13:4359–4377. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zambon, JB (2008) An examination of tropical cyclone dynamics utilizing the 3-way coupled ocean atmosphere wave sediment transport (COAWST) Model. Master's thesis, North Carolina State University.
  57. Zambon JB, He R, Warner JC (2014) Investigation of hurricane Ivan using the coupled ocean–atmosphere–wave–sediment transport (COAWST) model. Ocean Dyn 64:1535–1554. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

Personalised recommendations