Tropical cyclone predictability shaped by western Pacific subtropical high: integration of trans-basin sea surface temperature effects

Abstract

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans were suggested to explain inter-annual variability of tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the western North Pacific (WNP). Here we show that the influences of these “trans-basin” SST anomalies in the three oceans can be collectively understood via two leading modes of variability of WNP subtropical high (WNPSH). The first mode, which is forced by SST anomalies in the eastern-central Pacific and tropical Atlantic, can shift TC formation locations southeastward/northwestward, but has insignificant influence on the total TC genesis number, albeit affects the TC tracks, total number of tropical storm days, and power dissipation index (PDI). The second mode, which is a coupled ocean–atmosphere mode associated with a dipole SST anomaly in the Indo-Pacific warm pool, has a significant control on the total TC genesis number. A set of physics-based empirical models is built to predict the two WNPSH modes and TC activity (genesis number, tropical storm days and PDI) in the peak TC season (July–September) with preceding season trans-basin SST predictors. The predictions capture very well the inter-annual variabilities of the WNPSH and reasonably well the variability of WNP TC activity. These results thus establish a unified framework to understand and forecast the inter-annual variability in TC activity over the WNP.

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Acknowledgements

This study is jointly supported by the Atmosphere-Ocean Research Center (AORC), which is partially funded by the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 41420104002, 41705060, 41730961), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant no. 2016YFA0600401), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20170941), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD). This is the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) publication number 10648, and the IPRC publication number 1362.

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Wang, C., Wang, B. Tropical cyclone predictability shaped by western Pacific subtropical high: integration of trans-basin sea surface temperature effects. Clim Dyn 53, 2697–2714 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-019-04651-1

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Keywords

  • Western North Pacific
  • Subtropical high
  • Tropical cyclone
  • Seasonal prediction
  • Inter-annual variability