Researchers find ocean temperature threshold for hurricanes is risingUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Outreach Specialist, International Pacific Research Center
Nat Johnson, (808) 956-2375
Researcher, International Pacific Research Center
In order to detect the annual changes in the threshold sea surface temperature (SST) for convection, Nat Johnson, a postdoctoral fellow at IPRC, and Shang-Ping Xie, a professor of meteorology at IPRC and UH Mānoa, analyzed satellite estimates of tropical ocean rainfall spanning 30 years. They find that changes in the threshold temperature for convection closely follow the changes in average tropical sea surface temperature, which have both been rising approximately 0.1°C per decade.
“The correspondence between the two time series is rather remarkable,” says lead author Johnson. “The convective threshold and average sea surface temperatures are so closely linked because of their relation with temperatures in the atmosphere extending several miles above the surface.”
The study notes further that global climate models project that the sea surface temperature threshold for convection will continue to rise in tandem with the tropical average sea surface temperature. If true, hurricanes and other forms of tropical convection will require warmer ocean surfaces for initiation over the next century.
This research was supported by grants from NOAA, NSF, NASA, and JAMSTEC.
Citation: N.C. Johnson and S.-P. Xie, 2010: Changes in the sea surface temperature threshold for tropical convection. Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo1004.
For more information, visit: http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/