Mar 24, 2015

Quantifying the sensitivity of maximum, limiting, and potential tropical cyclone intensity to SST: Observations versus the FSU/COAPS global climate model

S. E. Strazzo, J. B. Elsner, T. E. LaRow
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
  • States that previous research quantified the sensitivity of limiting intensity to SST for observed tropical cyclones (TCs) and for TCs generated by two global climate models (GCMs)
  • States that, on average, a 1° C increase in sea surface temperature (SST) is associated with a 7.9 m s−1 increase in the statistical upper limit of observed intensity; conversely, a 1°C increase in SST does not significantly affect the limiting intensity of GCM‐generated TCs
  • This study builds on previous research in two ways: (1) A comparison is made between the statistically defined limiting intensity and the physically defined potential intensity, and (2) a test is performed on the ability of a ∼0.94° resolution GCM to reproduce the observed statistical relationship between potential intensity and SST
  • Uses data from NASA's Modern Era Reanalysis to approximate the observed sensitivity of potential intensity to SST for the 1982–2008 time period
  • Results indicate that the sensitivity of potential intensity to SST is not statistically different from the sensitivity of observed maximum or limiting intensity to SST
  • This result links the statistically defined sensitivity to the physically based theory of hurricanes
  • Estimates potential intensity from the FSU/COAPS GCM, which reproduces the observed sensitivity of potential intensity to SST (though it does not capture the observed sensitivity of TC maximum or limiting intensity to SST)