Near-Time Sea Surface Temperature and Tropical Cyclone Intensity in the Eastern North Pacific Basin



Although a significant relationship between near-time sea surface temperature (SST) and tropical cyclone (TC) intensity has been found for many major TC basins, this topic has not been explored in the eastern North Pacific (ENP) basin. When the main development region of the (ENP) Ocean is subdivided into eastern (EDR) and western (WDR) development regions, SSTs show a weak, yet significant, positive relationship with intensities of the six-hourly TC observations and storms’ maximum strengths only in the WDR. This SST-storm intensity relationship is most apparent for the maximum lifetime TC intensity of WDR major hurricanes. The maximum strength of major hurricanes in the ENP basin is more clearly established in the WDR where SST is at least 25 °C, well below the minimum SST value that is observed in the North Atlantic basin.

When intensity observations are binned into SST intervals, the upper bound value of TC intensity is found to increase with SST. Compared to the previous TC climatological analysis (Whitney and Hobgood (1997) J Clim 10(11):2921–2930), the maximum relative wind speed has increased for SST bins of 27 °C (>26.5 °C and <27.5 °C) or higher. While a linear function was determined previously as the best empirical fit for the ENP maximum potential intensity (ENPMPI) for each SST bin (Whitney and Hobgood (1997) J Clim 10(11):2921–2930), other means of curve fitting such as the exponential decay (increase form) function also show skill at representing the SST-dependent ENPMPI in the WDR. When storm observations are regionally stratified, the rate of increasing maximum potential intensity with SST flattens out towards the highest SST category. Under the ambient condition in which the theoretical MPI is assumed along ENP storm tracks, the updated relationship of the outflow temperature with SST resembles an inverse (negative) sigmoid curve.


Sea surface temperature Eastern North Pacific basin Tropical cyclone intensity Maximum potential intensity Western development region Eastern development region Exponential decay Outflow temperature Maximum lifetime intensity Correlation Statistical relationship Empirical function Relative wind speed Sea surface temperature bin 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Toronto ScarboroughScarboroughCanada
  2. 2.Department of Computer and Mathematical SciencesUniversity of Toronto ScarboroughScarboroughCanada

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