Do tropical cyclones (TCs) have a global impact on climate? Maybe in terms of their impact on air-sea heat or gas fluxes? For example cooling the surface ocean, or enhancing CO2 fluxes?

The motivation behind this question is that CMIP6-type Earth system models (ESMs) are often too coarse in resolution to represent TCs. If climate were represented with a high-resolution model, which can reproduce TCs and their air-sea interactions, what aspect of the global climate would potentially be better represented? Would this improvement be relevant at the global scale? Would this be a good reason to push ESMs towards high resolution?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would have thought the effect would have been the opposite: climate affects the severity & frequency of tropical cyclones. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Mar 20 at 8:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You should make that comment an answer, @Fred. Tropical cyclones are one of many mechanisms by which heat is transferred from the tropics to more temperate regions of the Earth. Climate change impacts those heat transfer mechanisms, not the other way around. $\endgroup$ Mar 22 at 12:46

1 Answer 1


When the overall energy of the atmosphere is considered, mainly thermal and kinetic, the energy contained by tropical cyclones is much smaller. Climate change affects the severity & frequency of tropical cyclones, not the other way around. The tail doesn't wag the dog.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.