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Size and Strength of Tropical Cyclones as Inferred from QuikSCAT Data

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  • 1 School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
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Abstract

A comprehensive statistical climatology of the size and strength of the tropical cyclones (TCs) occurring over the western North Pacific (WNP; including the South China Sea) and the North Atlantic (NA; including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) between 1999 and 2009 is constructed based on Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) data. The size and strength of a TC are defined, respectively, as the azimuthally averaged radius of 17 m s−1 of ocean-surface winds (R17) and the azimuthally averaged tangential wind within 1°–2.5°-latitude radius from the TC center (outer-core wind strength, OCS).

The mean TC size and strength are found to be 2.13° latitude and 19.6 m s−1, respectively, in the WNP, and 1.83° latitude and 18.7 m s−1 in the NA. While the correlation between size and strength is strong (r ≈ 0.9), that between intensity and either size or strength is weak.

Seasonally, midsummer (July) and late-season (October) TCs are significantly larger in the WNP, while the mean size is largest in September in the NA. The percentage frequency of TCs having large size or high strength is also found to vary spatially and seasonally. In addition, the interannual variation of TC size and strength in the WNP correlate significantly with the TC lifetimes and the effect of El Niño over the WNP. TC lifetime and seasonal subtropical ridge activities are shown to be potential factors that affect TC size and strength.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Johnny Chan, School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Ave., Kowloon, Hong Kong, China. E-mail: johnny.chan@cityu.edu.hk

Abstract

A comprehensive statistical climatology of the size and strength of the tropical cyclones (TCs) occurring over the western North Pacific (WNP; including the South China Sea) and the North Atlantic (NA; including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) between 1999 and 2009 is constructed based on Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) data. The size and strength of a TC are defined, respectively, as the azimuthally averaged radius of 17 m s−1 of ocean-surface winds (R17) and the azimuthally averaged tangential wind within 1°–2.5°-latitude radius from the TC center (outer-core wind strength, OCS).

The mean TC size and strength are found to be 2.13° latitude and 19.6 m s−1, respectively, in the WNP, and 1.83° latitude and 18.7 m s−1 in the NA. While the correlation between size and strength is strong (r ≈ 0.9), that between intensity and either size or strength is weak.

Seasonally, midsummer (July) and late-season (October) TCs are significantly larger in the WNP, while the mean size is largest in September in the NA. The percentage frequency of TCs having large size or high strength is also found to vary spatially and seasonally. In addition, the interannual variation of TC size and strength in the WNP correlate significantly with the TC lifetimes and the effect of El Niño over the WNP. TC lifetime and seasonal subtropical ridge activities are shown to be potential factors that affect TC size and strength.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Johnny Chan, School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Ave., Kowloon, Hong Kong, China. E-mail: johnny.chan@cityu.edu.hk
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