Tropical Cyclone Size Change under Ocean Warming and Associated Responses of Tropical Cyclone Destructiveness: Idealized Experiments


  • The power dissipation index (PDI), which is defined as the sum of the cube of tropical cyclone (TC) maximum wind speed during TC lifetime, is widely used to estimate the TC destructive potential. However, due to the lack of high-resolution observations, little attention has been paid to the contribution of TC size change to TC destructive potential in response to ocean warming. In this study, sensitivity experiments are performed by using the high-resolution Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to investigate the responses of TC size and TC destructive potential to prescribed sea surface temperature (SST) increase under the present climate condition. The results show that TC size increases with the ocean warming. Possible reasons for TC size change are investigated with a focus on the outer air–sea moisture difference (ASMD). As SST increases, ASMD in the outer zone of the TC is larger than that in the inner zone, which increases the surface entropy flux (SEF) of the outer zone. This change in the radial distribution of SEF causes the increase of tangential wind in the outer zone, which further increases SEF, resulting in a positive feedback between outer-zone SEF and outer-zone tangential wind. This feedback leads to the increase of the ra-dius of gale-force wind, leading to the expansion of TC size. Moreover, to estimate the contribution of TC size change to TC destructiveness, we calculate TC size-dependent destructive potential (PDS) as the storm size information is available in the model outputs, as well as PDI that does not consider the effect of TC size change. We find that PDS increases exponentially as SST increases from 1 to 4°C, while PDI increases linearly; hence the former is soon much greater than the latter. This suggests that the growth effect of TC size cannot be ignored in estimating destruc-tiveness under ocean warming.
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