Mesoscale eddies in the Caribbean Sea

Ocean eddies are abundant in the Caribbean Sea. They are predominantly anti-cyclonic, have a warm core, and can be long-lived. They are thought to impact the local ecosystem by mixing low-salinity river waters with the nutrient-rich waters that upwell along the Venezuelan and Colombian coast. Since these eddies have the potential to store heat below the surface, they may influence the evolution of passing hurricanes.

Thermohaline staircases in the Caribbean Sea

Sea surface temperature and hurricane intensification

Hurricanes are fueled by the energy that is released when atmospheric water vapor condensates. A higher sea surface temperature (SST) can increase the energy available to a hurricane. However, a hurricane’s strong winds vertically mix the warmer upper ocean with colder subsurface waters, thus providing a negative feedback on the SST.

We statistically investigate the magnitude and spatial distribution of hurricane-induced SST cooling, and its relation to hurricane intensity, translation speed, and the ocean stratification.