2021 journal article

Ocean Dynamics are Key to Extratropical Forcing of El Nino

JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, 34(21), 8739–8753.

By: S. Chakravorty*, R. Perez*, B. Anderson*, S. Larson n, B. Giese* & V. Pivotti*

co-author countries: United States of America 🇺🇸
author keywords: Atmosphere-ocean interaction; El Nino; Extratropics; Climate models
Source: Web Of Science
Added: February 28, 2022

Abstract El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has been recently linked with extratropical Pacific Ocean atmospheric variability. The two key mechanisms connecting the atmospheric variability of the extratropical Pacific with ENSO are the heat flux–driven “seasonal footprinting mechanism” (SFM) and the ocean dynamics–driven “trade wind charging” (TWC) mechanism. However, their relative contributions to ENSO are still unknown. Here we present modeling evidence that the positive phase of the SFM generates a weaker, short-lived central Pacific El Niño–like warming pattern in the autumn, whereas the TWC positive phase leads to a wintertime eastern Pacific El Niño–like warming. When both mechanisms are active, a strong, persistent El Niño develops. While both mechanisms can trigger equatorial wind anomalies that generate an El Niño, the strength and persistence of the warming depends on the subsurface heat content buildup by the TWC mechanism. These results suggest that while dynamical coupling associated with extratropical forcing is crucial to maintain an El Niño, thermodynamical coupling is an extratropical source of El Niño diversity.