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  • Author or Editor: Alexander V. Babanin x
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Il-Ju Moon
Thomas R. Knutson
Hye-Ji Kim
Alexander V. Babanin
, and
Jin-Yong Jeong


Tropical cyclones operate as heat engines, deriving energy from the thermodynamic disequilibrium between ocean surfaces and atmosphere. Available energy for the cyclones comes primarily from upper-ocean heat content. Here, we show that eastern North Pacific hurricanes reach a given intensity 15% faster on average than western North Pacific typhoons despite having half the available ocean heat content. Eastern North Pacific hurricanes also intensify on average 16% more with a given ocean energy (i.e., air–sea enthalpy flux) than western North Pacific typhoons. As efficient intensifiers, eastern Pacific hurricanes remain small during their intensification period, tend to stay at lower latitudes, and are affected by relatively lower vertical wind shear, a colder troposphere, and a drier boundary layer. Despite a shallower warm upper-ocean layer in the eastern North Pacific, average hurricane-induced sea surface cooling there is only slightly larger than in the western North Pacific due to the opposing influences of stronger density stratification, smaller size, and related wave-interaction effects. In contrast, western North Pacific typhoons encounter a more favorable oceanic environment for development, but several factors cause typhoons to greatly increase their size during intensification, resulting in a slow and inefficient intensification process. These findings on tropical cyclones’ basin-dependent characteristics contribute toward a better understanding of TC intensification.

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