Impact of wave whitecapping on land falling tropical cyclones

Bruneau, Nicolas; Toumi, Ralf; Wang, Shuai. 2018 Impact of wave whitecapping on land falling tropical cyclones. Scientific Reports, 8. 653.

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Predicting tropical cyclone structure and evolution remains challenging. Particularly, the surface wave interactions with the continental shelf and their impact on tropical cyclones have received very little attention. Through a series of state-of-the-art high-resolution, fully-coupled ocean-wave and atmosphere-ocean-wave experiments, we show here, for the first time, that in presence of continental shelf waves can cause substantial cooling of the sea surface. Through whitecapping there is a transfer of momentum from the surface which drives deeper vertical mixing. It is the waves and not just the wind which become the major driver of stratified coastal ocean ahead-of-cyclone cooling. In the fully-coupled atmosphere-ocean-wave model a negative feedback is found. The maximum wind speed is weaker and the damaging footprint area of hurricane-force winds is reduced by up to 50% due to the strong wave induced ocean cooling ahead. Including wave-ocean coupling is important to improve land falling tropical cyclone intensity predictions for the highly populated and vulnerable coasts.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 15 Jan 2018 15:20 +0 (UTC)

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