Ocean response to hurricanes: A look a cold wake restratification

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Robert L. Deal, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; and C. A. Clayson

Intense winds in hurricanes cause cooling of the upper ocean, due to entrainment of the colder deeper water, upwelling, and surface heat flux loss (e.g. Price 1981). The resulting cold water signal left as the hurricane passes is known as a cold wake. This cold wake can be viewed via satellite observations, and also from ocean buoys. Research has made great strides in understanding how cold wakes are formed but there has been less research in the field of cold wake restratification. Understanding of the total upper ocean heat content change and the mixing of the resulting cold wake is important as it may have a bearing on the global energy meridional transport by the oceans and the atmosphere. Emanuel 2001 theorized that there is a significant contribution of poleward heat flux by the oceans from tropical cyclone activity; in this research we evaluate the extent to which we can test this theory. This study will utilize data from satellite altimeters to determine how long the cold wake signature lasts at depth and then verify the satellites with data from Argo floats. Finally an attempt at understanding the ocean heat content will be studied using an ocean model to determine how long it takes for the ocean to restratisfy after the tropical cyclone and resulting cold wake passes.