Upper-Ocean Thermal Structure and the Western North Pacific Category 5 Typhoons. Part II: Dependence on Translation Speed

Lin, I.-I.; Iam-Fei Pun; Chun-Chieh Wu
November 2009
Monthly Weather Review;Nov2009, Vol. 137 Issue 11, p3744
Academic Journal
Using new in situ ocean subsurface observations from the Argo floats, best-track typhoon data from the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center, an ocean mixed layer model, and other supporting datasets, this work systematically explores the interrelationships between translation speed, the ocean’s subsurface condition [characterized by the depth of the 26°C isotherm (D26) and upper-ocean heat content (UOHC)], a cyclone’s self-induced ocean cooling negative feedback, and air–sea enthalpy fluxes for the intensification of the western North Pacific category 5 typhoons. Based on a 10-yr analysis, it is found that for intensification to category 5, in addition to the warm sea surface temperature generally around 29°C, the required subsurface D26 and UOHC depend greatly on a cyclone’s translation speed. It is observed that even over a relatively shallow subsurface warm layer of D26 ∼ 60–70 m and UOHC ∼ 65–70 kJ cm-2, it is still possible to have a sufficient enthalpy flux to intensify the storm to category 5, provided that the storm can be fast moving (typically Uh ∼ 7–8 m s-1). On the contrary, a much deeper subsurface layer is needed for slow-moving typhoons. For example at Uh ∼ 2–3 m s-1, D26 and UOHC are typically ∼115–140 m and ∼115–125 kJ cm-2, respectively. A new concept named the affordable minimum translation speed Uh_min is proposed. This is the minimum required speed a storm needs to travel for its intensification to category 5, given the observed D26 and UOHC. Using more than 3000 Argo in situ profiles, a series of mixed layer numerical experiments are conducted to quantify the relationship between D26, UOHC, and Uh_min. Clear negative linear relationships with correlation coefficients R = -0.87 (-0.71) are obtained as Uh_min = -0.065 × D26 + 11.1, and Uh_min = -0.05 × UOHC + 9.4, respectively. These relationships can thus be used as a guide to predict the minimum speed a storm has to travel at for intensification to category 5, given the observed D26 and UOHC.


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