P2.71 The effect of marine cold-air outbreaks on tropical cyclone potential intensity in the Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, 13 May 2010
Arizona Ballroom 7 (JW MArriott Starr Pass Resort)
Rebecca Hunniford, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; and C. A. Clayson and A. S. Bogdanoff

The Gulf of Mexico is among the most populated of coastlines threatened by tropical systems and has experienced some of the most destructive hurricanes in history. The importance of the warm ocean waters of the Gulf in providing optimal conditions for tropical cyclone formation and intensification is becoming more clear with recent research; thus, understanding factors that affect the upper ocean heat content in the Gulf is essential to anticipating hurricane activity. Large air-sea fluxes influence the inter-annual variability of the upper ocean heat content and are caused by the modification of polar continental air masses as they are advected over a relatively warm body of water. Known as marine cold air outbreaks (CAOs), these occurrences force the release of sensible and latent heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, leading to evaporation at the ocean surface and oceanic cooling. However, little work has been done to quantify their climatology, or the importance of these events in the upper ocean heat budget. This study will focus on winter seasons with strong and frequent CAOs over the Gulf of Mexico, and the effect these events have on the upper ocean heat content. The possible impact on tropical cyclone potential intensity for the following hurricane season will be explored, as sea surface temperature is one factor used in predicting the intensification process.
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