As a result, they rarely form within 5° of the equator.
Though their effects on human populations are often devastating, tropical cyclones can relieve drought conditions.
They also carry heat energy away from the tropics and transport it toward temperate latitudes, which may play an important role in modulating regional and global climate.
Coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to the impact of a tropical cyclone, compared to inland regions.
The primary energy source for these storms is warm ocean waters.
Tropical cyclones are areas of relatively low pressure in the troposphere, with the largest pressure perturbations occurring at low altitudes near the surface.
On Earth, the pressures recorded at the centers of tropical cyclones are among the lowest ever observed at sea level.
Hurricane Isabel (2003) as seen from orbit during Expedition 7 of the International Space Station.
The eye, eyewall, and surrounding rainbands, characteristics of tropical cyclones in the narrow sense, are clearly visible in this view from space.
The near-surface wind field of a tropical cyclone is characterized by air rotating rapidly around a center of circulation while also flowing radially inwards.
At the outer edge of the storm, air may be nearly calm; however, due to the Earth's rotation, the air has non-zero absolute angular momentum.