Various modeling and observational studies have suggested that tropical cyclone (TC) intensity tends to increase in the future due to projected warmer sea surface temperature (SST). This study examines the effects of the tropospheric stratification that could potentially offset the direct increase of TC intensity associated with the warmer SST. Using reanalysis datasets and TC records in the northwestern Pacific and the North Atlantic basins, it is shown that there exists a consistently negative correlation between the annually averaged TC intensity and the basinwide average of the tropospheric static stability. This negative correlation is more robust in the northwestern Pacific basin when using the TC lifetime maximum intensity but is somewhat less significant in the North Atlantic basin. Further separation of the troposphere into a lower (1000–500 hPa) and an upper layer (500–200 hPa) reveals that it is the upper-tropospheric static stability that plays a more dominant role in governing the TC intensity variability. The negating effects of a stable troposphere on TC intensity as found in this study suggest a partial offset of the projected increase in the TC potential intensity due to the future warmer SST. Thus, the tropospheric static stability is one of the key large-scale factors that need to be properly taken into account in studies of long-term TC intensity change.

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