Ocean conditions and the intensification of three major atlantic hurricanes in 2017

RICARDO DOMINGUES, MATTHIEU LE HÉNAFF, GEORGE HALLIWELL, JUN A. ZHANG, FRANCIS BRINGAS, PATRICIA CHARDON, HYUN SOOK KIM, JULIO MORELL, GUSTAVO GONI

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Major Atlantic hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria of 2017 reached their peak intensity in September while traveling over the tropical North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, where both atmospheric and ocean conditions were favorable for intensification. In situ and satellite ocean observations revealed that conditions in these areas exhibited (i) sea surface temperatures above 288C, (ii) upper-ocean heat content above 60 kJ cm22, and (iii) the presence of low-salinity barrier layers associated with a larger-than-usual extension of the Amazon and Orinoco riverine plumes. Proof-of-concept coupled ocean-hurricane numerical model experiments demonstrated that the accurate representation of such ocean conditions led to an improvement in the simulated intensity of Hurricane Maria for the 3 days preceding landfall in Puerto Rico, when compared to an experiment without the assimilation of ocean observations. Without the assimilation of ocean observations, upper-ocean thermal conditions were generally colder than observations, resulting in reduced air-sea enthalpy fluxes-enthalpy fluxes are more realistically simulated when the upper-ocean temperature and salinity structure is better represented in the model. Our results further showed that different components of the ocean observing system provide valuable information in support of improved TC simulations, and that assimilation of underwater glider observations alone enabled the largest improvement over the 24 h time frame before landfall. Our results, therefore, indicated that ocean conditions were relevant for more realistically simulating Hurricane Maria's intensity. However, further research based on a comprehensive set of hurricane cases is required to confirm robust improvements to forecast systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1265-1286
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume149
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Air-sea interaction
  • Coupled models
  • Data assimilation
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • In situ oceanic observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Ocean conditions and the intensification of three major atlantic hurricanes in 2017'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this