Tropical Cyclone–Induced Upper-Ocean Mixing and Climate: Application to Equable Climates Academic Article uri icon


  • Tropical cyclones instigate an isolated blast of vigorous mixing in the upper tropical oceans, stirring warm surface water with cooler water in the thermocline. Previous work suggests that the frequency, intensity, and lifetime of these storms may be functions of the climate state, implying that transient tropical mixing could have been stronger during warmer equable climates with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide. Stronger mixing of the tropical oceans can force the oceans' meridional heat flux to increase, cooling tropical latitudes while warming higher ones. This response differs significantly from previous modeling studies of equable climates that used static mixing; coupling mixing to climate changes the dynamic response. A parameterization of mixing from tropical cyclones is developed, and including it leads to a cooling of tropical oceans and a warming of subtropical waters compared with control cases with fixed mixing. The mixing penetration depth regulates the magnitude of the response. © 2008 American Meteorological Society.

author list (cited authors)

  • Korty, R. L., Emanuel, K. A., & Scott, J. R.

citation count

  • 107

publication date

  • February 2008