Multi-year records of satellite remote sensing of sea surface salinity (SSS) provide an opportunity to investigate the climatological characteristics of the SSS response to tropical cyclones (TCs). In this study, the influence of TC winds, rainfall and preexisting ocean stratification on SSS evolution is examined with multiple satellite-based and in-situ data. Global storm-centered composites indicate that TCs act to initially freshen the ocean surface (due to precipitation), and subsequently salinify the surface, largely through vertical ocean processes (mixing and upwelling), although regional hydrography can lead to local departure from this behavior. On average, on the day a TC passes, a strong SSS decrease is observed. The fresh anomaly is subsequently replaced by a net surface salinification, which persists for weeks. This salinification is larger on the right (left)-hand side of the storm motion in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere, consistent with the location of stronger turbulent mixing. The influence of TC intensity and translation speed on the ocean response is also examined. Despite having greater precipitation, stronger TCs tend to produce longer-lasting, stronger and deeper salinification especially on the right-hand side of the storm motion. Faster moving TCs are found to have slightly weaker freshening with larger area coverage during the passage, but comparable salinification after the passage. The ocean haline response in four basins with different climatological salinity stratification reveals a significant impact of vertical stratification on the salinity response during and after the passage of TCs.
- Sea surface salinity
- Tropical cyclone
- Upper ocean response
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)