National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Physical Oceanography Division

Research Highlights


Satellite-derived Heat Content Product Developed at AOML Helps to Understand The Differences in Intensity Between Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Katrina

A news article that appeared in The New York Times on August 27 shows the ocean conditions in the Gulf of Mexico during hurricanes Katrina (August 2005) and Isaac (August 2012). The ocean conditions are depicted by the upper ocean heat content derived from satellite altimetry using a methodology developed at NOAA/AOML. The upper ocean heat content had larger values during Katrina mainly due to an anticyclonic warm ring and an extended Loop Current. These conditions, not found during the passage of Hurricane Isaac, partly contributed to the intensification of Katrina. Full story>>


Is there an optimal ENSO pattern that enhances large-scale atmospheric processes conducive to tornado outbreaks in the U.S?

The record-breaking U.S. tornado outbreaks in the spring of 2011 prompt the need to identify long-term climate signals that could potentially provide seasonal predictability for U.S. tornado outbreaks. A new research led by scientists in the Physical Oceanography Division of NOAA-AOML used both observations and model experiments to show that a positive phase Trans-Niño may be one such climate signal. Full story>>


Relationship Identified Between Atlantic "Warm Pool" and U.S. Landfalling Hurricanes

In this study highlighted in the Editors' Choice of Science Magazine (issue of Oct. 21, 2011), NOAA scientists have identified a relationship between large–scale climate factors, the Atlantic warm pool, and hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. This relationship indicates that a large warm pool is an unfavorable condition for hurricanes to landfall on the United States coast. Full story>>


What Caused the Significant Increase in Atlantic Ocean Heat Content Since the mid-20th Century?

A new study led by researchers from University of Miami, NOAA-AOML, IFM-GEOMAR, and NCAR explores why the Atlantic Ocean has warmed substantially more than any other ocean basin since the 1950s. The research article published in the Geophysical Research letters evidences that the observed large warming of the Atlantic Ocean since the 1950s is largely induced by an increase in the inter-ocean heat transport from the Indian Ocean via the Agulhas leakage. The study points to an important role played by the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in the South Atlantic in enhancing the secular warming of the Atlantic Ocean. Full story>>


Study Highlights Out-of-phase Relationship Between Tropical Cyclones in the North Atlantic and Eastern Pacific

In articles published in the scientific journal of Geophysical Research Letters and the AGU Newspaper of EOS, AOML’s scientists Chunzai Wang and Sang-Ki Lee show that tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic varies out-of-phase with that in the eastern North Pacific on both interannual and multidecadal timescales. That is, when tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic increases (decreases), tropical cyclone activity in the eastern North Pacific decreases (increases). Both vertical wind shear and convective instability contribute to the out-of-phase relationship, whereas relative humidity and vorticity variations at the lower troposphere do not seem to cause the relationship. Full story>>

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