An ocean coupling potential intensity index for tropical cyclones

I. I. Lin, P. Black, J. F. Price, C. Y. Yang, S. S. Chen, C. C. Lien, P. Harr, N. H. Chi, C. C. Wu, E. A. D'Asaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Timely and accurate forecasts of tropical cyclones (TCs, i.e., hurricanes and typhoons) are of great importance for risk mitigation. Although in the past two decades there has been steady improvement in track prediction, improvement on intensity prediction is still highly challenging. Cooling of the upper ocean by TC-induced mixing is an important process that impacts TC intensity. Based on detail in situ air-deployed ocean and atmospheric measurement pairs collected during the Impact of Typhoons on the Ocean in the Pacific (ITOP) field campaign, we modify the widely used Sea Surface Temperature Potential Intensity (SST-PI) index by including information from the subsurface ocean temperature profile to form a new Ocean coupling Potential Intensity (OC-PI) index. Using OC-PI as a TC maximum intensity predictor and applied to a 14 year (1998-2011) western North Pacific TC archive, OC-PI reduces SST-PI-based overestimation of archived maximum intensity by more than 50% and increases the correlation of maximum intensity estimation from r2 = 0.08 to 0.31. For slow-moving TCs that cause the greatest cooling, r2 increases to 0.56 and the root-mean square error in maximum intensity is 11 m s-1. As OC-PI can more realistically characterize the ocean contribution to TC intensity, it thus serves as an effective new index to improve estimation and prediction of TC maximum intensity. Key PointsCurrent potential intensity index considers only ocean's surface contributionInclusion of ocean's subsurface information to improve estimationBased on a valuable in situ data set from the ITOP field campaign

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1878-1882
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 16 2013


  • ocean cooling
  • potential intensity index
  • tropical cyclones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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