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Strong surface winds of a hurricane locally cool the surface and warm the subsurface waters via turbulent mixing processes. While the surface cool anomalies generally decay in roughly a month, the warm subsurface anomalies can persist over a seasonal cycle. The authors examine questions related to the magnitude and cumulative footprint of subsurface warm anomalies forced by tropical cyclones during the combined global tropical cyclone seasons, making use of a global ocean model forced by tropical cyclones.

Simulations of the 2004/05 tropical cyclone season are conducted with and without tropical cyclone wind forcing, blended with the daily Coordinated Ocean-Ice Reference Experiments (COREs) atmospheric state. Physical characteristics of cyclone-forced surface and subsurface anomalies are elucidated. In particular, the spatial extent and magnitude of tropical cyclone–forced subsurface warm anomalies over the course of an entire season are examined. This analysis permits the estimation of the contribution of cyclone-induced anomalies to the ocean heat content and sea surface temperature, aiding in understanding anomalous meridional heat transport.

Globally, there is a maximum accumulated heat uptake 4.1 × 1021J, with the greatest regional contributions in the North Atlantic (1.7 × 1021J), west Pacific (1.5 × 1021J), and east Pacific (1.7 × 1021J). An export of heat from the subtropics to the tropics via rapid advective pathways is found, most notably in the west Pacific. These warm anomalies tend to remain in the equatorial band, with potential implications for the tropical climate system.