Sea level rise, surface warming, and the weakened buffering ability of South China Sea to strong typhoons in recent decades

Jingru Sun, Leo Oey, F. H. Xu, Y. C. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Each year, a number of typhoons in the western North Pacific pass through the Luzon Strait into South China Sea (SCS). Although the storms remain above a warm open sea, the majority of them weaken due to atmospheric and oceanic environments unfavorable for typhoon intensification in SCS, which therefore serves as a natural buffer that shields the surrounding coasts from potentially more powerful storms. This study examines how this buffer has changed over inter-decadal and longer time scales. We show that the buffer weakens (i.e. greater potential for more powerful typhoons) in negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) years, as well as with sea-level-rise and surface warming, caused primarily by the deepening of the ocean's 26 °C isotherm Z 26 . A new Intensity Change Index is proposed to describe the typhoon intensity change as a function of Z 26 and other environmental variables. In SCS, the new index accounts for as high as 75% of the total variance of typhoon intensity change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7418
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

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