Impacts of tropical cyclones on the global water budget

Published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, 2023

Recommended citation: Pérez-Alarcón, A.; Coll-Hidalgo, P.; Fernández-Alvarez, J.C.; Trigo, R.M.; Nieto, R.; Gimeno, L. (2023). Impacts of tropical cyclones on the global water budget. npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, 6, 212.



Tropical cyclones (TCs) require substantial amounts of moisture for their genesis and development, acting as important moisture drivers from the ocean to land and from tropical to subtropical and extratropical regions. Quantifying anomalous moisture transport related to TCs is crucial for understanding long-term TC-induced changes in the global hydrological cycle. Our results highlight that, in terms of the global water budget, TCs enhance moisture transport from evaporative regions and precipitation over sink regions, leading to predominantly anomalous positive surface freshwater flux areas over the tropics and more regionally concentrated negative areas over the Intertropical Convergence Zone. Furthermore, we detected seasonal variability in the impact of TC on the hydrological cycle, which is closely related to the annual and seasonal TC frequency. Our analysis also revealed a global statistically significant drop (~40 mm year−1) in TC-induced surface freshwater fluxes from 1980 to 2018 in response to the increasing sea surface temperature and slightly decrease in global TC frequency and lifetime in the last two decades. These findings have important implications for predicting the impacts of TCs on the hydrological cycle under global warming conditions.