Satellite observations of modulation of surface winds by typhoon-induced upper ocean cooling



[1] Two remote sensing data sets, the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and the NASA QuikSCAT ocean surface wind vectors, are analysed to study ocean-atmosphere interactions in cold SST regions formed in the trail of two typhoon events. Anomalously cold SST patches up to 6°C below the surrounding warm tropical ocean SST are found along the trail of typhoon tracks as cold, deep waters are entrained up to the mixed layer due to typhoon forcing. In both typhoon events, significant and systematic weakening of surface wind speed is found over cold SST patches relative to surface wind speed in surrounding regions. The wind speed anomalies disappear as the patches recover to the level of the surrounding SST. The results are consistent with the mechanism proposed by Wallace et al. that surface winds are modulated by SST via stability. As wind within the well-mixed boundary layer moves over the cold patch, boundary layer stability increases, vertical mixing is suppressed, and the vertical wind shear increases; reduction in surface wind speed is caused. In particular, our result shows that this mechanism can act on relatively small spatial (≈100 km) and short (≈1 day) time scales.