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Transience, Nonlinearity, and Eddy Feedback in the Remote Response to El Niño

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Centre for Climate and Global Change Research, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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Abstract

A dry primitive equation model is used to investigate the remote response to a fixed tropical heat source. The basic forcing for the model takes the form of time-independent terms added to the prognostic equations in two configurations. One produces a perturbation model, in which anomalies grow on a fixed basic state. The other gives a simple GCM, which can be integrated for a long time and delivers a realistic climate simulation with realistic storm tracks. A series of experiments is performed, including 15-day perturbation runs, ensemble experiments, and long equilibrium runs, to isolate different dynamical influences on the fully developed Pacific–North American (PNA) type response to an equatorial heating anomaly centered on the date line.

The direct linear response is found to be very sensitive to changes in the basic state of the same order as the atmosphere’s natural variability, and to the natural progression of the basic state over the time period required to set up the response. However, interactions with synoptic-scale noise in the ambient flow are found to have very little systematic effect on the linear response. Nonlinear interactions with a fixed basic state lead to changes in the position, but not the amplitude, of the response. Feedback with finite-amplitude transient eddies leads to downstream amplification of the PNA pattern, both within the setup time for the response and in a fully adjusted equilibrium situation.

Nonlinearity of the midlatitude dynamics gives rise to considerable asymmetry between the response to tropical heating and the response to an equal and opposite cooling.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Nicholas M. J. Hall, Laboratoire des Ecoulements Géophysiques et Industriels (LEGI), BP53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France.

Email: Nick.Hall@hmg.inpg.fr

Abstract

A dry primitive equation model is used to investigate the remote response to a fixed tropical heat source. The basic forcing for the model takes the form of time-independent terms added to the prognostic equations in two configurations. One produces a perturbation model, in which anomalies grow on a fixed basic state. The other gives a simple GCM, which can be integrated for a long time and delivers a realistic climate simulation with realistic storm tracks. A series of experiments is performed, including 15-day perturbation runs, ensemble experiments, and long equilibrium runs, to isolate different dynamical influences on the fully developed Pacific–North American (PNA) type response to an equatorial heating anomaly centered on the date line.

The direct linear response is found to be very sensitive to changes in the basic state of the same order as the atmosphere’s natural variability, and to the natural progression of the basic state over the time period required to set up the response. However, interactions with synoptic-scale noise in the ambient flow are found to have very little systematic effect on the linear response. Nonlinear interactions with a fixed basic state lead to changes in the position, but not the amplitude, of the response. Feedback with finite-amplitude transient eddies leads to downstream amplification of the PNA pattern, both within the setup time for the response and in a fully adjusted equilibrium situation.

Nonlinearity of the midlatitude dynamics gives rise to considerable asymmetry between the response to tropical heating and the response to an equal and opposite cooling.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Nicholas M. J. Hall, Laboratoire des Ecoulements Géophysiques et Industriels (LEGI), BP53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France.

Email: Nick.Hall@hmg.inpg.fr

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