Ocean precursors to the extreme Atlantic 2017 hurricane season

A recent study published in nature communications investigated three ocean precursors, namely surface latent heat flux and wind stress curl over the main development region (MDR, 10–20°N, 20–80°W) and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) at 26.5°N, to the active hurricane seasons in 2005, 2010 and 2017. The study showed that in 2005 and 2010, a weakened AMOC was the primary driver of warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the MDR. In 2017, however, reduced wind-driven cold water upwelling and weaker surface net heat loss in the northeastern MDR were the main drivers of the warm SSTAs in the MDR. This is the first study to show that reduced latent cooling and wind-driven upwelling were important in generating the precursor to the extreme 2017 hurricane season.

Image credit (NOAA NESDIS): GOES 16 full disk image of hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose captured in September 8 2017.

Hallam, S., Marsh, R., Josey, S. A., Hyder, P., Moat, B., & Hirschi, J. M. (2019). Ocean precursors to the extreme Atlantic 2017 hurricane season, Nature Communications 10, 896. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08496-4

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