Super Typhoon Haiyan's Intensification and Unusually Warm Sub-Surface Waters

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:25 PM GMT on November 13, 2013

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A remarkable warming of the sub-surface Pacific waters east of the Philippines in recent decades, due to a shift in atmospheric circulation patterns and ocean currents that began in the early 1990s, could be responsible for the rapid intensification of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Hurricanes are heat engines, which means they take heat energy out of the ocean, and convert it to kinetic energy in the form of wind. It's well-known that tropical cyclones need surface water temperatures of at least 26.5°C (80°F) to maintain themselves, and that the warmer the water, and the deeper the warm water is, the stronger the storm can get. Deep warm water is important, since as a tropical cyclone tracks over the ocean, it stirs up cooler water from the depths, potentially reducing the intensity of the storm. When both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita exploded into Category 5 hurricanes as they crossed over a warm eddy in the Gulf of Mexico with a lot of deep, warm water, the concept of the total heat energy available to fuel a hurricane--the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP)--became one that gained wide recognition. The Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines has the largest area of deep, warm water of anywhere on Earth, and these waters have historically fueled the highest incidence of Category 5 storms of anywhere on the planet. Super Typhoon Haiyan tracked over surface waters that were of near-average warmth, 29.5 - 30.5°C (85 - 87°F.) However, the waters at a depth of 100 meters (328 feet) beneath Haiyan during its rapid intensification phase were a huge 3°C above average, according to Professor I-I Lin of the Department of Atmospheric Science at the National Taiwan University. An analysis by the Japan Meteorological Agency for October showed ocean temperatures 4 - 5°C (7 - 9°F) above average during October (Figure 1). This analysis was from a model. When looking at actual measurements made by the Argo float data in early November, the temperatures in the layer 100 meters below the surface under Haiyan were about 3°C above average, not 4 - 5°C, according to Dr. Lin. As the typhoon stirred this unusually warm water to the surface, the storm was likely able to feed off the heat, allowing Haiyan to intensify into one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed.


Figure 1. Modeled departure of temperature from average at a depth of 100 meters in the West Pacific Ocean during October 2013, compared to a 1986 - 2008 average. The track and intensity of Super Typhoon Haiyan are overlaid. Haiyan passed directly over large areas of sub-surface water that were much above average in temperature, which likely contributed to the storm's explosive deepening. While this model showed 4 - 5°C departures from average in October, the actual values were closer to 3°C in early November, according to Argo float data. Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.

Why was there such unusually warm sub-surface water?
The sub-surface waters east of the Philippines have warmed dramatically over the past twenty years. According to Pun et al. (2013), "Recent increase in high tropical cyclone heat potential area in the Western North Pacific Ocean", the depth to where ocean temperatures of at least 26°C (79°F) penetrates has increased by 17% since the early 1990s, and the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential has increased by 13%. The warm-up is due to an increase in the surface winds blowing across the region--the trade winds--which have caused a southward migration and strengthening of the North Equatorial Current (NEC) and the North Equatorial Counter Current (NECC). The strong trade winds have pushed a large amount of water up against the east coast of the Philippines in the past twenty years, resulting in a rate of sea level rise of 10 mm per year--more than triple the global average of 3.1 mm/yr (Figure 2.) This extra sea level rise contributed to the storm surge damage from Super Typhoon Haiyan. Sea level rise data from Legaspi in the Eastern Philippines shows a rise of about 305 mm (12 inches) since 1949. For comparison, global average sea level rose 7.5" (190 mm) since 1901. Part of the rise along the eastern Philippine coast is from tectonic processes--the subsidence of the Philippine plate under the Eurasian plate--but most of it is due to the stronger trade winds piling up warm water along the coast, and the fact that warmer waters expand, raising sea level.


Figure 2. Trend in sea level from satellite altimeter measurements in 1993 - 2010. Black lines are the Sea Surface Height (SSH) in cm from Rio et al. (2009.) Image credit: Qiu, B., and S. Chen, 2012, "Multidecadal sea level and gyre circulation variability in the northwestern tropical Pacific Ocean", Journal of Physical Oceanography 42.1 (2012): 193-206.

Why have the trade winds sped up?
The surface trade winds in the equatorial Pacific are part of the Walker Circulation--a pattern of rising and sinking air along the Equator that the El Nino/La Nina cycle influences. A strong Walker circulation means there is lower pressure over Indonesia, which pulls in more air at the surface along the Equator from the east, increasing the easterly trade winds. As these trade winds strengthen, they pull surface ocean waters away from South America, allowing cold water to upwell to the surface. This is a La Niña-like situation, which takes heat energy out of the atmosphere, putting it into the ocean, keeping global surface temperatures cooler than they would otherwise be. A weakened Walker circulation is the reverse, resulting in weaker trade winds, and a more El Niño-like situation with higher global surface temperatures. As long as the stronger Walker circulation that has been in place since the early 1990s holds, global surface temperatures should stay cooler than they otherwise would be, prolonging the slow-down in global surface warming that has received much attention this year. There may also be a greater chance of super typhoons and higher storm surges affecting the Philippines, due to the warmer sub-surface waters and re-arranged ocean currents. A 2013 paper by L’Heureux et al. notes that the climate models predict that the Walker circulation should weaken (a more El Niño-like situation)--the reverse of what has been observed the past twenty years. The researchers took the observed pressure patterns over the Pacific in recent decades and removed the atmospheric response to the El Niño/La Niña cycle. The resulting pattern they found showed a steady strengthening of the Walker circulation, in concert with global rising temperatures. So, are we seeing a failure of the climate models? Or is the recent speed-up of the Walker circulation a decades-long temporary "speed bump" in the climate system? Time will tell. It is worth pointing out that a just-released paper by British and Canadian researchers shows that the global surface temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. As discussed at realclimate.org, "The reason is the data gaps in the weather station network, especially in the Arctic. If you fill these data gaps using satellite measurements, the warming trend is more than doubled in the widely-used HadCRUT4 data, and the much-discussed “warming pause” has virtually disappeared."

I appeared on PBS Newshour last night to discuss the linkages between stronger tropical cyclones and climate change, video here.

References
L’Heureux, Michelle L., Sukyoung Lee, and Bradfield Lyon, 2013, "Recent multidecadal strengthening of the Walker circulation across the tropical Pacific", Nature Climate Change 3.6 (2013): 571-576.

Pun, Iam‐Fei, I‐I. Lin, and Min‐Hui Lo, 2013, "Recent increase in high tropical cyclone heat potential area in the Western North Pacific Ocean", Geophysical Research Letters (2013).

Qiu, B., and S. Chen, 2012, "Multidecadal sea level and gyre circulation variability in the northwestern tropical Pacific Ocean", Journal of Physical Oceanography 42.1 (2012): 193-206.

Jeff Masters

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1036. flsky
Quoting 1021. FunnelVortex:


And we know how much Floridians hate rain...

I love the rain - who you been talking to. Especially with ourgreat thunder and lightning!
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1035. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting 1033. eddye:
isnt their suppose 2 be a strong cold front coming next week 2 south fla and cen fla
it was but it switch up
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
1034. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
back to freezing again next wed wash maybe another chance for snow for ya

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
1033. eddye
isnt their suppose 2 be a strong cold front coming next week 2 south fla and cen fla
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1032. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
1031. Xulonn
Quoting 953. AGWcreationists:
Nice exercise in splitting hairs.
Not at all. The two hairs were always discrete - no splitting involved.

Take a look at the difference between the English words "cause" and "influence." They are not the same but can be related - just like weather and climate.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Verb: cause; 1. Make something happen.

"these conditions can cause tropical cyclones"

synonyms: bring about, give rise to, lead to, result in, create, produce, generate, engender, spawn, bring on, precipitate, prompt, provoke, trigger, make happen, induce, etc.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Noun: influence; 1. The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of something, or the effect itself.

"the influence of global warming on weather events"

synonyms: effect, impact, etc.

Verb: influence; 1. Have an influence on.

"Global warming can influence weather"

synonyms: affect, have an impact on, impact, determine, guide, control, shape, govern, decide; etc.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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Remember ya'll last week Jim Cantore said we were going to get snow in the D.C area by Thursday..What happened?.It was sun with a high near 60 degrees...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17824
1029. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
60HR SFC WET BLB TEMP
00 GFS
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
1028. VR46L
Quoting 1021. FunnelVortex:


And we know how much Floridians hate rain...


;) They whine during the wet season that it rains too much and as soon as the rainy season stops they start crying for rain again ....... Except Scott who just cant get enough!



( I am so dead ,they are so gonna keeellll me !)
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
1027. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting 1022. cRRKampen:

Ask them.
While waiting for an answer, I wonder if you think nightfall for the day gets uncertain when you make a wrong prediction during a poker game. You must live in a wild world.

Consensus on AGW at over 97% is higher than on the adversity of asbestos, or of tobacco smoking, and it is higher than the consensus on evolution theory. So there you are...

Here in Holland X-mas 2050 is going to be colder than the 4th of July 2049. Challenge that.


Maybe you live in Amsterdam, that would expain a lot. Keep on tokin' those "funny" cigs.
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1025. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
54 HR GFS SUPER CELL COMPOSITE

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
1024. Patrap
If you say that on AIR, you may get a few responses to help you wit dat un Chuck.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
Quoting 1021. FunnelVortex:


And we know how much Floridians hate rain...


Actually it's been pretty dry for a while now. Here in Lee County we have already had 5 small brush fires. And it's not the dry season yet...
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Quoting 985. Chucktown:


If we can't get a 3 month forecast correct, how the hell can climate scientists forecast the next 100 years.

Ask them.
While waiting for an answer, I wonder if you think nightfall for the day gets uncertain when you make a wrong prediction during a poker game. You must live in a wild world.

Consensus on AGW at over 97% is higher than on the adversity of asbestos, or of tobacco smoking, and it is higher than the consensus on evolution theory. So there you are...

Here in Holland X-mas 2050 is going to be colder than the 4th of July 2049. Challenge that.
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Quoting 1020. FtMyersgal:
Moisture!




And we know how much Floridians hate rain...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Moisture!


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Today!!:)
Scattered showers, mainly after 1pm. Cloudy, with a temperature falling to around 75 by 5pm. East wind 11 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
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Quoting 1012. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Maybe the lack of vertical instability was a small issue, but it sure wasn't the single reason that the hurricane season busted. Otherwise, 2011 and 2012 would not have featured the 3rd highest number of named storms on record.


Neither 2011 or 2012 had an ACE count of what one would expect for seasons with 19 named storms however.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24576
Quoting 1009. Torito:
Nam:



LOL


NAM = Never Accurate Model
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1016. flsky
Kinda off topic, but I just got this last night wanted to share. Video of Rover's mission to Mars Link
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1015. Torito
Quoting 1013. FunnelVortex:


Darn you, wishcasting models, you am no real accuracy.


Yea, they all are likely missing the target there...



I'm out of here for a few hours. Laterz.
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Quoting 1007. Torito:



0rly? GFS ENS. xD


Thar be an extratropical cyclone. I can even see the cold front in the PW gradient.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1007. Torito:



0rly? GFS ENS. xD



Darn you, wishcasting models, you am no real accuracy.
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Quoting 987. CybrTeddy:
@Chucktown:

Everyone was wrong about the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season. Dr. Masters was wrong, I was wrong, everyone on this blog with the exception of trolls ended up being wrong, NOAA, CSU, TSR, et al were also all wrong. Lack of vertical instability in the Atlantic killed this season.

That being said, this was one year they're wrong. Look back in the last few years and if anything -- they've been too low instead of too high! Only 2006 and 2013 have they been too high in the last 10 years. But generally speaking they've been fairly accurate.



Maybe the lack of vertical instability was a small issue, but it sure wasn't the single reason that the hurricane season busted. Otherwise, 2011 and 2012 would not have featured the 3rd highest number of named storms on record.
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1011. Torito
Even CFS vaguely shows it! xD

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1010. Torito
Quoting 1008. Tazmanian:




no your the wishcaster hurricane season is closed



Im pretty sure I am not. :) I parrot information. xD
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1009. Torito
Nam:



LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1006. Torito:


In 15 days. ;) Let the wishcasters alone.




no your the wishcaster hurricane season is closed
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1007. Torito
Quoting 1005. FunnelVortex:


lol



0rly? GFS ENS. xD

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1006. Torito
Quoting 1003. Tazmanian:
i think its safe too say that hurricane season 2013 is closed




In 15 days. ;) Let the wishcasters alone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1002. Torito:
Gem 108 hours out:



lol
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Quoting 994. ncstorm:


didnt the experts predict a low activity season prior to this one and we ended up being higher than average? I think it had to do with a prediction of an el nino that never materialize?


The "experts" have done a terrible job of predicting hurricanes over the past few years.

Can't wait until the predictions for 2014 come out. Then we can assume the opposite will happen.

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i think its safe too say that hurricane season 2013 is closed


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1002. Torito
Gem 108 hours out:

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1001. VR46L
Quoting 982. pcola57:


Morning VR.. :)
Something to watch indeed..
I was looking and it seems to be gaining momentum..
Somewhat.. :p
How's your weather today?


Ah Pcola , it is grand today ,a little dull but around here at this time of year its actually a good day

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
1000. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42261
Quoting 995. LargoFl:
I have him on ignore but you pulled his trolling post up..thanks,he/she is trolling me and will be reported..i'd appreciate it alot if you would not pull up his/her posts..amny thanks.


He also modified his comment..he is good at that in removing his "evidence"
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Quoting 995. LargoFl:
I have him on ignore but you pulled his trolling post up..thanks,he/she is trolling me and will be reported..i'd appreciate it alot if you would not pull up his/her posts..amny thanks.

Sorry. :|
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Quoting 994. ncstorm:


didnt the experts predict a low activity season prior to this one and we ended up being higher than average? I think it had to do with a prediction of an el nino that never materialize?


For whatever reason, an El Nino simply refuses to return to the planet. We haven't seen one since early-2010. Everytime warm anomalies begin to build up in the Atlantic, it goes right back down to a neutral phase.

But it's interesting that although the Atlantic has been inactive, the western Pacific has experienced the most active season in terms of named storms since 2004.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24576
Quoting 991. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ok iam alright now


Lol!

Well, any time you see a Dorian, you know it is pretty bad out there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 992. Torito:



LOL... Nailed the article. ;)
I have him on ignore but you pulled his trolling post up..thanks,he/she is trolling me and will be reported..i'd appreciate it alot if you would not pull up his/her posts..amny thanks.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42261
Quoting 987. CybrTeddy:
@Chucktown:

Everyone was wrong about the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season. Dr. Masters was wrong, I was wrong, everyone on this blog with the exception of trolls ended up being wrong, NOAA, CSU, TSR, et al were also all wrong. Lack of vertical instability in the Atlantic killed this season.

That being said, this was one year they're wrong. Look back in the last few years and if anything -- they've been too low instead of too high! Only 2006 and 2013 have they been too high in the last 10 years. But generally speaking they've been fairly accurate.




didnt the experts predict a low activity season prior to this one and we ended up being higher than average? I think it had to do with a prediction of an el nino that never materialize?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
993. VR46L
Quoting 979. Torito:


According to the MTCSWA... The COC should be around here, even though it is not closed quite yet.





That stuff is way out of my league ... Its on the list but far down LOL
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
Quoting 988. Patrap:
# 984

If yer gonna quote a Utah Geology Paper, maybe give them a citation cuz those are not yer words.

Ice Ages %u2013 What are they and what causes them?
by Sandy Eldredge and Bob Biek




LOL... Nailed the article. ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 987. CybrTeddy:
@Chucktown:

Everyone was wrong about the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season. Dr. Masters was wrong, I was wrong, everyone on this blog with the exception of trolls ended up being wrong, NOAA, CSU, TSR, et al were also all wrong. Lack of vertical instability in the Atlantic killed this season.

That being said, this was one year they're wrong. Look back in the last few years and if anything -- they've been too low instead of too high! Only 2006 and 2013 have they been too high in the last 10 years. But generally speaking they've been fairly accurate.


ok iam alright now
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting 987. CybrTeddy:
@Chucktown:

Everyone was wrong about the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season. Dr. Masters was wrong, I was wrong, everyone on this blog with the exception of trolls ended up being wrong, NOAA, CSU, TSR, et al were also all wrong. Lack of vertical instability in the Atlantic killed this season.

That being said, this was one year they're wrong. Look back in the last few years and if anything -- they've been too low instead of too high! Only 2006 and 2013 have they been too high in the last 10 years. But generally speaking they've been fairly accurate.


very true,for all our knowledge,nature still rules the day.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42261
so IF what I am reading is confirmed,the current global warming if any,would slow down a return to a glacial period,yes oceans may indeed rise some,yes storms May become more severe,but in the long term, its a good thing for humanity as a whole..you cant grow crops under a thousand feet of ice.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42261
# 984


Ice Ages What are they and what causes them?
by Sandy Eldredge and Bob Biek

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
@Chucktown:

Everyone was wrong about the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season. Dr. Masters was wrong, I was wrong, everyone on this blog with the exception of trolls ended up being wrong, NOAA, CSU, TSR, et al were also all wrong. Lack of vertical instability in the Atlantic killed this season.

That being said, this was one year they're wrong. Look back in the last few years and if anything -- they've been too low instead of too high! Only 2006 and 2013 have they been too high in the last 10 years. But generally speaking they've been fairly accurate.


Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24576
Quoting 928. PanhandleChuck:



Y'all keep spewing the same garbage year after year and continually try to reason out why it is not happening the way you all have "predicted"

keep drinking the kool aid

So that's what you do when you receive a well worked explanation for a phenomenon. You troll.
You are a climate revisionist. Do you get paid? No? A stupid one at that, then.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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