The Ocean Heat Content (OHC) is a measure of energy in bodies of water based on how thick a layer of warm water is. Warm water as it pertains to OHC is 26°C or 78.8°F. The deeper a layer of water goes with water warmer than 26°C, the higher the OHC. Ocean Heat Content can affect the strength of a developing tropical cyclone. Hurricanes that move over regions with high OHC values can receive a boost of intensification from the deep energy available in the water. The reason is because Hurricanes cause very turbulent conditions for the water beneath it, and can cause mixing with water below the surface. The mixing of hot water on the surface with cooler water below the surface can cut off the energy flow from the ocean that fuels storm intensification. However, if the water has a deep layer of warm water (high OHC) the mixing caused by turbulence will still result in warm enough water to help a tropical system intensify.
Ocean Heat Content is a component in the Baron Hurricane Index because of its effect on Tropical Cyclone intensification. The BHI algorithm will be boosted in areas of high OHC, but conditions are not dependent on OHC. For example, BHI conditions can still be “Favorable” if OHC is low.