A Long Neglected Damper in the El Niño - Typhoon Relationship: A 'Gaia-Like' Process

Zhe Wen Zheng, I. I. Lin*, Bin Wang, Hsiao Ching Huang, Chi Hong Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Proposed in the early 1970's, the Gaia hypothesis suggests that our planet earth has a self-regulating ability to maintain a stable condition for life. Tropical cyclone (TC) is one of the earth's most hazardous disasters; it is intriguing to explore whether 'Gaia-like' processes may exist in nature to regulate TC activities. El Niño can shift the forming position of the Western Pacific typhoons away from land. This shift enables typhoons to travel longer distances over ocean and is known to be a positive process to promote TCs to achieve higher intensity. What is neglected, however, is that there co-exists a negative process. Here we show that during El Niño, typhoons intensify over region undergoing strong ocean subsurface shoaling where upper ocean heat content can drop by 20-50%. This 'worsen' ocean pre-condition can effectively reduce ocean's energy supply for typhoon intensification during typhoon-ocean interaction. We find this an elegant, 'Gaia-like' process demonstrating nature's self-regulating ability. Though during El Niño, typhoons can take advantage of the longer travelling distance over ocean to achieve higher intensity, nature is also providing a damper to partially cancel this positive impact. Without the damper, the situation could be even worse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11103
JournalScientific reports
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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