The response of quasigeostrophic oceanic vortices to tropical cyclone forcing

Benjamin Jaimes, Lynn K. Shay, George R. Halliwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The response of quasigeostrophic (QG) oceanic vortices to tropical cyclone (TC) forcing is investigated using an isopycnic ocean model. Idealized oceanic currents and wind fields derived from observational data acquired during Hurricane Katrina are used to initialize this model. It is found that the upwelling response is a function of the curl of wind-driven acceleration of oceanic mixed layer (OML) currents rather than a function of the wind stress curl. Upwelling (downwelling) regimes prevail under the TC's eye as it translates over cyclonic (anticyclonic) QG vortices. OML cooling of ~1°C occurs over anticyclones because of the combined effects of downwelling, instantaneous turbulent entrainment over the deep warm water column (weak stratification), and vertical dispersion of near-inertial energy. By contrast, OML cooling of ~4°C occurs over cyclones due to the combined effects of upwelling, instantaneous turbulent entrainment over regions of tight vertical thermal gradients (strong stratification), and trapping of near-inertial energy that enhances vertical shear and mixing at the OML base. The rotational rate of the QG vortex affects the dispersion of near-inertial waves. As rotation is increased in both cyclones and anticyclones, the near-inertial response is shifted toward more energetic frequencies that enhance vertical shear and mixing. TCinduced temperature anomalies in QG vortices propagate westward with time, deforming the cold wake. Therefore, to accurately simulate the impact of TC-inducedOMLcooling and feedback mechanisms on storm intensity, coupled ocean-atmosphere TC models must resolve geostrophic ocean eddy location as well as thermal, density, and velocity structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1965-1985
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2011


  • Internal waves
  • Numerical analysis/modeling
  • Oceanic mixed layer
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Upwelling/downwelling
  • Vortices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


Dive into the research topics of 'The response of quasigeostrophic oceanic vortices to tropical cyclone forcing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this