Understanding the interaction of ocean eddies with tropical cyclones is critical for improving the understanding and prediction of the tropical cyclone intensity change. Here an investigation is presented of the interaction between Supertyphoon Maemi, the most intense tropical cyclone in 2003, and a warm ocean eddy in the western North Pacific. In September 2003, Maemi passed directly over a prominent (700 km X 500 km) warm ocean eddy when passing over the 22°N eddy-rich zone in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Analyses of satellite altimetry and the best-track data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center show that during the 36 h of the Maemi-eddy encounter, Maemi's intensity (in 1-min sustained wind) shot up from 41 m s-1 to its peak of 77 m s-1. Maemi subsequently devastated the southern Korean peninsula. Based on results from the Coupled Hurricane Intensity Prediction System and satellite microwave sea surface temperature observations, it is suggested that the warm eddies act as an effective insulator between typhoons and the deeper ocean cold water. The typhoon's self-induced sea surface temperature cooling is suppressed owing to the presence of the thicker upper-ocean mixed layer in the warm eddy, which prevents the deeper cold water from being entrained into the upper-ocean mixed layer. As simulated using the Coupled Hurricane Intensity Prediction System, the incorporation of the eddy information yields an evident improvement on Maemi's intensity evolution, with its peak intensity increased by one category and maintained at category-5 strength for a longer period (36 h) of time. Without the presence of the warm ocean eddy,the intensification is less rapid. This study can serve as a starting point in the largely speculative and unexplored field of typhoon-warm ocean eddy interaction in the western North Pacific. Given the abundance of ocean eddies and intense typhoons in the western North Pacific, these results highlight the importance of a systematic and in-depth investigation of the interaction between typhoons and western North Pacific eddies.
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