Stronger tropical cyclones strengthen the Kuroshio Current, further heating high latitudes

May 28, 2020

As the intensity and frequency of the strongest cyclones east of Taiwan have increased, so has the strength of the Kuroshio current, a Pacific current responsible for redistributing heat throughout the western North Pacific Ocean. According to a new study, intensifying tropical cyclones have increased the amount of energy in the ocean eddies that feed into the Kuroshio, accelerating the current. The results reveal a positive feedback between tropical cyclones (TCs) and potentially significant increased warming at higher latitudes. Climate models that overlook this and similar mechanisms may misrepresent the magnitude and pattern of warming in future climate predictions, say the authors. Similar to the Atlantic's Gulf Stream, the Kuroshio current is responsible for transporting vast amounts of warm water from the tropics to higher latitudes, retributing tropical heat to cooler latitudes. The speed of the Kuroshio (and the rate of heat transfer) is largely controlled by the wind and the mesoscale ocean eddies that feed into the larger current. Here, Yu Zhang and colleagues show that the increasing frequency and intensity of TCs in the region - a product of Pacific warming - has had the overall effect of increasing the strength of cyclonic mesoscale ocean eddies that feed the Kuroshio. At the same time, it has decreased the strength of anticyclonic ones. The result is a northward acceleration of the current, resulting in the transfer of more heat energy into the mid- and high-latitude ocean water. The results illustrate how larger tropical cyclones related to increased climate warming can influence large-scale ocean circulation by modifying underlying eddy fields that feed currents - further enhancing climate warming in regions farther afield. "For a proper representation of eddies in climate models, more theoretical and modeling studies are needed to improve our understanding of the physical processes involved in the interactions among eddies, TCs and large-scale ocean circulation, write Zhang et al.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Climate Models Articles from Brightsurf:

Polar ice, atmospheric water vapor biggest drivers of variation among climate models
A Florida State University researcher is part of a team that has found varying projections on global warming trends put forth by climate change scientists can be explained by differing models' predictions regarding ice loss and atmospheric water vapor.

Revising climate models with new aerosol field data
Advanced field measurements of how quickly aerosol particles are pulled out of the air can help improve climate predictions - and air quality forecasts.

Simpler models may be better for determining some climate risk
Typically, computer models of climate become more and more complex as researchers strive to capture more details of our Earth's system, but according to a team of Penn State researchers, to assess risks, less complex models, with their ability to better sample uncertainties, may be a better choice.

Atmospheric scientists study fires to resolve ice question in climate models
Black carbon from fires is an important short-term climate driver because it can affect the formation and composition of clouds.

New soil models may ease atmospheric CO2, climate change
To remove carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere in an effort to slow climate change, scientists must get their hands dirty and peek underground.

Patterns in permafrost soils could help climate change models
A team of scientists spent the past four summers measuring permafrost soils across a 5,000 square-mile swath of Alaska's North Slope.

Latest climate models show more intense droughts to come
An analysis of new climate model projections by Australian researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes shows southwestern Australia and parts of southern Australia will see longer and more intense droughts due to a lack of rainfall caused by climate change.

Some of the latest climate models provide unrealistically high projections of future warming
A new study from University of Michigan climate researchers concludes that some of the latest-generation climate models may be overly sensitive to carbon dioxide increases and therefore project future warming that is unrealistically high.

A Europe covered in grasslands or forests: innovation and research on climate models
An experiment to better understand how atmospheric variables respond to land use changes.

How tiny water droplets form can have a big impact on climate models
Droplets and bubbles are formed nearly everywhere, from boiling our morning coffee, to complex industrial processes and even volcanic eruptions.

Read More: Climate Models News and Climate Models Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to