Seasonal versus permanent thermocline warming by tropical cyclones



[1] Recent studies suggest that the enhanced upper ocean mixing caused by tropical cyclones significantly contributes to the ocean heat transport. However, existing studies that try to quantify this contribution make the assumption that all heat pumped below the mixed layer by tropical cyclones is finally released in higher latitudes. Tropical cyclones occur primarily during summer and early fall, when the ocean mixed layer is generally shallow. As the mixed layer deepens in the following winter, any warm anomaly deposited within the seasonal thermocline will be reabsorbed by the mixed layer and lost to the atmosphere. Analysis of satellite sea surface temperature and sea surface height data, together with climatological subsurface ocean data, suggests that only about one quarter of the heat that is mixed downward by tropical cyclones eventually makes it into the permanent thermocline.