The role of radiative interactions in tropical cyclone development under realistic boundary conditions

Bosong Zhang, Brian J. Soden, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Wenchang Yang

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15 Scopus citations


The impact of radiative interactions on tropical cyclone (TC) climatology is investigated using a global, TC-permitting general circulation model (GCM) with realistic boundary conditions. In this model, synoptic-scale radiative interactions are suppressed by overwriting the model-generated atmospheric radiative cooling rates with their monthly varying climatological values. When radiative interactions are suppressed, the global TC frequency is significantly reduced, indicating that radiative interactions are a critical component of TC development even in the presence of spatially varying boundary conditions. The reduced TC activity is primarily due to a decrease in the frequency of pre-TC synoptic disturbances ("seeds''), whereas the likelihood that the seeds undergo cyclogenesis is less affected. When radiative interactions are suppressed, TC genesis shifts toward coastal regions, whereas TC lysis locations stay almost unchanged; together the distance between genesis and lysis is shortened, reducing TC duration. In a warmer climate, the magnitude of TC reduction from suppressing radiative interactions is diminished due to the larger contribution from latent heat release with increased sea surface temperatures. These results highlight the importance of radiative interactions in modulating the frequency and duration of TCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2079-2091
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Tropical cyclones


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