Highly resolved observations and simulations of the ocean response to a hurricane Academic Article uri icon


  • An autonomous, profiling float called EM-APEX was developed to provide a quantitative and comprehensive description of the ocean side of hurricane-ocean interaction. EM-APEX measures temperature, salinity and pressure to CTD quality and relative horizontal velocity with an electric field sensor. Three prototype floats were air-deployed into the upper ocean ahead of Hurricane Frances (2004). All worked properly and returned a highly resolved description of the upper ocean response to a category 4 hurricane. At a float launched 55 km to the right of the track, the hurricane generated large amplitude, inertially rotating velocity in the upper 120 m of the water column. Coincident with the hurricane passage there was intense vertical mixing that cooled the near surface layer by about 2.2°C. We find consistent model simulations of this event provided the wind stress is computed from the observed winds using a high wind-speed saturated drag coefficient.

publication date

  • July 16, 2007