Statistical Characterization of the Observed Cold Wake Induced by North Atlantic Hurricanes

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This work quantifies the magnitude, spatial structure, and temporal evolution of the cold wake left by North Atlantic hurricanes. To this end we composited the sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) induced by hurricane observations from 2002 to 2018 derived from the international best track archive for climate stewardship (IBTrACS). Cold wake characteristics were distinguished by a set of hurricane and oceanic properties: Hurricane translation speed and intensity, and the characteristics of the upper ocean stratification represented by two barrier layer metrics: Barrier layer thickness (BLT) and barrier layer potential energy (BLPE). The contribution of the above properties to the amplitude of the cold wake was analyzed individually and in combination. The mean magnitude of the hurricane-induced cooling was of 1.7 °C when all hurricanes without any distinction were considered, and the largest cooling was found for slow-moving, strong hurricanes passing over thinner barrier layers, with a cooling above 3.5 °C with respect to pre-storm sea surface temperature (SST) conditions. On average the cold wake needed about 60 days to disappear and experienced a strong decay in the first 20 days, when the magnitude of the cold wake had decreased by 80%. Differences between the cold wakes yielded by mostly infrared and merged infrared and microwave remote sensed SST data were also evaluated, with an overall relative underestimation of the hurricane-induced cooling of about 0.4 °C for infrared-mostly data.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2368
Number of pages25
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Barrier layer
  • Barrier layer potential energy
  • Cold wake
  • Hurricane
  • Sea surface temperature (SST)
  • Tropical cyclone

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