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Central American mountains inhibit eastern North Pacific seasonal tropical cyclone activity.

  • Author(s): Fu, Dan;
  • Chang, Ping;
  • Patricola, Christina M;
  • Saravanan, R;
  • Liu, Xue;
  • Beck, Hylke E
  • et al.
Abstract

The eastern North Pacific (ENP) has the highest density of tropical cyclones (TCs) on earth, and yet the controls on TCs, from individual events to seasonal totals, remain poorly understood. One effect that has not been fully considered is the unique geography of the Central American mountains. Although observational studies suggest these mountains can readily fuel individual TCs through dynamical processes, here we show that these mountains indeed play the opposite role on the seasonal timescale, hindering seasonal ENP TC activity by up to 35%. We found that these mountains significantly interrupt the abundant moisture transport from the Caribbean Sea to the ENP, limiting deep convection over the open ocean area where TCs preferentially occur. This study advances our fundamental understanding of ENP TC genesis mechanisms across the weather-to-climate timescales, and also highlights the importance of topography representation in improving the ENP regional climate simulations, as well as TC seasonal predictions and future projections.

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