Relationship between Pacific Ocean warming and tropical cyclone activity over the western North Pacific

  • Wanjiao SongEmail author
  • Shihao Tang
  • Xin Wang
Original Paper


El Niño has distinctive oceanic and atmospheric signatures that have different influences on tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the western North Pacific (WNP). This study compares TC activity over the WNP basin among strong Central-Pacific (CP), mixed CP, and strong Eastern-Pacific (EP) El Niño. Results suggest that TC activity with strong intensity and long lifespan occurred more frequently during strong (i.e. strong EP and strong CP) El Niño years than during mixed-CP El Niño years. This is attributed primarily to a combined modulation of the amplitude and duration of warm sea-surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) over the tropical Pacific, and variations in large-scale environmental conditions; i.e. eddy kinetic energy, omega, relative humidity, and vertical wind shear (VWS). During CP (i.e. strong CP and mixed CP) El Niño events, enhanced TC genesis is observed over a large part of the WNP. During strong-CP El Niño events, more TCs are generated east of 140°E in the southwestern WNP, whereas more TCs are generated west of 140°E during mixed-CP El Niño events. This is due to a reduced magnitude of VWS and a westward shift in warm SSTAs over the central equatorial Pacific. When an anomalous anticyclonic circulation over the Indo-China Peninsula is combined with a westward extension of the western North Pacific subtropical high, TCs heading northward are associated with strong mean winds during strong El Niño events, resulting primarily from enhanced eddy kinetic energy, omega, and relative humidity, and weak VWS. Overall, TC activity during the three types of El Niño shows distinct generation locations, evolution patterns, and intensities, and the evolving spatial patterns of SSTA play an important role in modulating TC activity.


EP El Niño CP El Niño Mixed CP El Niño Tropical cyclone Western North Pacific 



We thank three anonymous reviewers for very constructive feedback and insights, which significantly improved the manuscript. This project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41801355), National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFB0504900, 2018YFB0504905), China Special Fund for Meteorological Research in the Public Interest (No. GYHY201406001), and Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 91338203).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Satellite Meteorological CenterChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina

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