Tropical Multidecadal and Interannual Climate Variability in the NCEP–NCAR Reanalysis

Muthuvel Chelliah Climate Prediction Center, NCEP/NWS/NOAA, Washington D.C

Search for other papers by Muthuvel Chelliah in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
and
Gerald D. Bell Climate Prediction Center, NCEP/NWS/NOAA, Washington D.C

Search for other papers by Gerald D. Bell in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

The leading tropical multidecadal mode (TMM) and tropical interannual (ENSO) mode in the 52-yr (1949– 2000) NCEP–NCAR reanalysis are examined for the December–February (DJF) and June–August (JJA) seasons based on seasonal tropical convective rainfall variability and tropical surface (land + ocean) temperature variability. These combined modes are shown to capture 70%–80% of the unfiltered variance in seasonal 200-hPa velocity potential anomalies in the analysis region of 30°N–30°S. The TMM is the dominant mode overall, accounting for 50%–60% of the total unfiltered variance in both seasons, compared to the 22%–24% for ENSO.

The robustness of the tropical multidecadal mode is addressed, and the results are shown to compare favorably with observed station data and published results of decadal climate variability in the key loading regions. The temporal and spatial characteristics of this mode are found to be distinct from ENSO.

The TMM captures the global climate regimes observed during the 1950s–60s and 1980s–90s, and the 1970s transition between these regimes. It provides a global-scale perspective for many known aspects of this decadal climate variability (i.e., surface temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric circulation) and links them to coherent multidecadal variations in tropical convection and surface temperatures in four core regions: the West African monsoon region, the central tropical Pacific, the Amazon basin, and the tropical Indian Ocean.

During JJA, two distinguishing features of the tropical multidecadal mode are its link to West African monsoon variability and the pronounced zonal wavenumber-1 structure of the 200-hPa streamfunction anomalies in the subtropics of both hemispheres. During DJF a distinguishing feature is its link between anomalous tropical convection and multidecadal variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). For the linear combination of the TMM and ENSO the strongest regressed values of the wintertime NAO index are found when their principal component (PC) time series are out of phase.

In the Tropics and subtropics the linearly combined signal for the TMM and ENSO is strongest when their PC time series are in phase and is weakest when they are out of phase. This result suggests a substantial modulation of the ENSO teleconnections by the background flow. It indicates stronger La Niña teleconnections during the 1950s–60s, compared to stronger El Niño teleconnections during the 1980s–90s. Although this study addresses the linear ENSO–TMM interference, the results also suggest that interactions between the two modes may help to explain the stronger El Niño episodes observed during the 1980s–90s compared to the 1950s–60s.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Muthuvel Chelliah, Rm. 605A, Climate Prediction Center, NCEP/NWS/NOAA/U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 5200 Auth Road, NOAA Science Center, Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304. Email: muthuvel.chelliah@noaa.gov

Abstract

The leading tropical multidecadal mode (TMM) and tropical interannual (ENSO) mode in the 52-yr (1949– 2000) NCEP–NCAR reanalysis are examined for the December–February (DJF) and June–August (JJA) seasons based on seasonal tropical convective rainfall variability and tropical surface (land + ocean) temperature variability. These combined modes are shown to capture 70%–80% of the unfiltered variance in seasonal 200-hPa velocity potential anomalies in the analysis region of 30°N–30°S. The TMM is the dominant mode overall, accounting for 50%–60% of the total unfiltered variance in both seasons, compared to the 22%–24% for ENSO.

The robustness of the tropical multidecadal mode is addressed, and the results are shown to compare favorably with observed station data and published results of decadal climate variability in the key loading regions. The temporal and spatial characteristics of this mode are found to be distinct from ENSO.

The TMM captures the global climate regimes observed during the 1950s–60s and 1980s–90s, and the 1970s transition between these regimes. It provides a global-scale perspective for many known aspects of this decadal climate variability (i.e., surface temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric circulation) and links them to coherent multidecadal variations in tropical convection and surface temperatures in four core regions: the West African monsoon region, the central tropical Pacific, the Amazon basin, and the tropical Indian Ocean.

During JJA, two distinguishing features of the tropical multidecadal mode are its link to West African monsoon variability and the pronounced zonal wavenumber-1 structure of the 200-hPa streamfunction anomalies in the subtropics of both hemispheres. During DJF a distinguishing feature is its link between anomalous tropical convection and multidecadal variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). For the linear combination of the TMM and ENSO the strongest regressed values of the wintertime NAO index are found when their principal component (PC) time series are out of phase.

In the Tropics and subtropics the linearly combined signal for the TMM and ENSO is strongest when their PC time series are in phase and is weakest when they are out of phase. This result suggests a substantial modulation of the ENSO teleconnections by the background flow. It indicates stronger La Niña teleconnections during the 1950s–60s, compared to stronger El Niño teleconnections during the 1980s–90s. Although this study addresses the linear ENSO–TMM interference, the results also suggest that interactions between the two modes may help to explain the stronger El Niño episodes observed during the 1980s–90s compared to the 1950s–60s.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Muthuvel Chelliah, Rm. 605A, Climate Prediction Center, NCEP/NWS/NOAA/U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 5200 Auth Road, NOAA Science Center, Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304. Email: muthuvel.chelliah@noaa.gov

Save
  • Barnston, A. G., and R. E. Livezey, 1987: Classification, seasonality, and persistence of low frequency atmospheric circulation patterns. Mon. Wea. Rev, 115 , 10831126.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Basist, A. N., and M. Chelliah, 1997: Comparison of tropospheric temperatures derived from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, NCEP operational analysis, and the Microwave Sounding Unit. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 78 , 14311447.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Biondi, F., A. Gershunov, and D. R. Cayan, 2001: North Pacific decadal variability since 1661. J. Climate, 14 , 510.

  • Bjerknes, J., 1969: Atmospheric teleconnections from the equatorial Pacific. Mon. Wea. Rev, 97 , 163172.

  • Charney, J. G., 1975: Dynamics of deserts and drought in the Sahel. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc, 101 , 193202.

  • Charney, J. G., P. H. Stone, and W. J. Quirk, 1975: Drought in the Sahara: A biophysical feedback mechanism. Science, 187 , 434435.

  • Chelliah, M., and P. Arkin, 1992: Large-scale interannual variability of monthly outgoing longwave radiation anomalies in the global Tropics. J. Climate, 5 , 372389.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chelliah, M., and C. F. Ropelewski, 2000: Reanalysis-based tropospheric temperature estimates: Uncertainties in the context of global climate change detection. J. Climate, 13 , 31873205.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, T-C., J-H. Yoon, K. J. St. Croix, and E. S. Takle, 2001: Suppressing impacts of the Amazonian deforestation by the global circulation change. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 82 , 22092216.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chu, P-S., Z-P. Yu, and S. Hastenrath, 1994: Detecting climate change concurrent with deforestation in the Amazon basin: Which way has it gone? Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 75 , 579583.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Delworth, T. L., S. Manabe, and R. J. Stouffer, 1993: Interdecadal variations in the thermohaline circulation in a coupled ocean– atmosphere model. J. Climate, 6 , 19932011.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Delworth, T. L., S. Manabe, and R. J. Stouffer, 1997: Multi-decadal climate variability in the Greenland Sea and surrounding regions: A coupled model simulation. Geophys. Res. Lett, 24 , 257260.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ebisuzaki, W., M. Chelliah, and R. Kistler, 1996: NCEP/NCAR reanalysis: Caveats. Proc. First WMO Reanalysis Workshop, Silver Spring, MD, WMO, 81–84.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Enfield, D. B., and A. M. Mestas-Nuñez, 1999: Multiscale variabilities in global sea surface temperatures and their relationships with tropospheric climate patterns. J. Climate, 12 , 27192733.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Enfield, D. B., A. M. Mestas-Nuñez, and R. J. Stouffer, 2001: The Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation and its relation to rainfall and river flows in the continental U.S. Geophys. Res. Lett, 28 , 20772080.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Folland, C. K., T. N. Palmer, and D. E. Parker, 1986: Sahel rainfall and worldwide sea temperatures. Nature, 320 , 602607.

  • Garreaud, R. D., and D. S. Battisti, 1999: Interannual (ENSO) and interdecadal (ENSO-like) variability in the Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation. J. Climate, 12 , 21132123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gershunov, A., and T. Barnett, 1998: Interdecadal modulation of ENSO teleconnections. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 79 , 27152725.

  • Gill, A. E., 1982: Atmosphere–Ocean Dynamics. Academic Press, 662 pp.

  • Goldenberg, S. B., and L. J. Shapiro, 1996: Physical mechanisms for the association of El Niño and West African rainfall with Atlantic major hurricane activity. J. Climate, 9 , 11691187.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goldenberg, S. B., C. W. Landsea, A. Mestas-Nuñez, and W. M. Gray, 2001: The recent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity: Causes and implications. Science, 293 , 474479.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Graham, N. E., 1994: Decadal scale climate variability in the tropical and North Pacific during the 1970s and 1980s: Observations and model results. Climate Dyn, 10 , 135162.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gray, W. M., 1990: Strong association between West African rainfall and U.S. landfall of intense hurricanes. Science, 249 , 12511256.

  • Gray, W. M., J. D. Sheaffer, and C. W. Landsea, 1997: Climate trends associated with multi-decadal variability of Atlantic hurricane activity. Hurricanes: Climate and Socioeconomic Impacts, H. F. Diaz and R. W. Pulwarty, Eds., Springer-Verlag, 15–52.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halpert, M. S., and G. D. Bell, 1997: Climate assessment for 1996. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 78 , S1S49.

  • Hansen, D. V., and H. F. Bezdek, 1996: On the nature of decadal anomalies in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures. J. Geophys. Res, 101 , 87498758.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harrison, D. E., and N. K. Larkin, 1996: The COADS sea level pressure signal: A near-global El Niño composite and time series view, 1946–1993. J. Climate, 9 , 30253055.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hastenrath, S., 1990: Decadal-scale changes of the circulation in the tropical Atlantic sector associated with Sahel drought. Int. J. Climatol, 10 , 459472.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Higgins, R. W., A. Leetmaa, Y. Xue, and A. Barnston, 2000: Dominant factors influencing the seasonal predictability of U.S. precipitation and surface air temperature. J. Climate, 13 , 39944017.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoerling, M. P., J. W. Hurrell, and T. Xu, 2001: Tropical origins for recent North Atlantic climate change. Science, 292 , 9092.

  • Hulme, M., 1995: Estimating global changes in precipitation. Weather, 50 , 3442.

  • Hurrell, J. W., 1998: Relationships among recent atmospheric circulation changes, global warming, and satellite temperatures. Sci. Prog, 81 , 205224.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Janowiak, J. E., A. Gruber, C. R. Kondragunta, R. E. Livezey, and G. J. Huffman, 1998: A comparison of the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis precipitation and the GPCP rain gauge–satellite combined dataset with observational error considerations. J. Climate, . 11 , 29602979.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jones, P. D., T. M. L. Wigley, and G. Farmer, 1991: Marine and land temperature data sets: A comparison and look at recent trends. Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change: A Critical Appraisal of Simulations and Observations, M. E. Schlesinger, Ed., Elsevier Science, 593–602.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalnay, E., and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 77 , 437471.

  • Kawamura, R., 1994: A rotated EOF analysis of global sea surface temperature variability with interannual and interdecadal scales. J. Phys. Oceanogr, 24 , 707715.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kawamura, R., M. Sugi, and N. Sato, 1995a: Interdecadal and interannual variability in the northern extratropical circulation simulated with the JMA global model. Part I: Wintertime leading mode. J. Climate, 8 , 30063019.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kawamura, R., M. Sugi, and N. Sato, 1995b: Interdecadal and interannual variability in the northern extratropical circulation simulated with the JMA global model. Part II: Summertime leading mode. J. Climate, 8 , 30063019.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kistler, R., and Coauthors, 2001: The NCEP–NCAR 50-year reanalysis: Monthly means CD-ROM and documentation. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 82 , 247268.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krishnamurti, T. N., 1971: Tropical east–west circulations during the northern summer. J. Atmos. Sci, 28 , 13421347.

  • Kumar, K., B. Rajagopalan, and M. A. Cane, 1999: On the weakening relationship between the Indian Monsoon and ENSO. Science, . 284 , 21562159.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kushnir, Y., 1994: Interdecadal variations in North Atlantic sea surface temperature and associated atmospheric conditions. J. Climate, 7 , 141157.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Landsea, C. W., and W. M. Gray, 1992: The strong association between western Sahel monsoon rainfall and intense Atlantic hurricanes. J. Climate, 5 , 435453.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Latif, M., and T. P. Barnett, 1994: Decadal climate variability over the North Pacific and North America. Science, 266 , 634637.

  • Latif, M., R. Kleeman, and C. Eckert, 1997: Greenhouse warming, decadal variability, or El Niño? An attempt to understand the anomalous 1990s. J. Climate, 10 , 22212239.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lau, N-C., and M. Nath, 1994: A modeling study of the relative roles of tropical and extratropical SST anomalies in the variability of the global atmosphere–ocean system. J. Climate, 7 , 11841207.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Livezey, R. E., and T. M. Smith, 1999: Covariability of aspects of North American climate with global sea surface temperatures on interannual to interdecadal time scales. J. Climate, 12 , 289302.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mantua, N. J., S. R. Hare, Y. Zhang, J. M. Wallace, and R. C. Francis, 1997: A Pacific interdecadal climate oscillation with impacts on salmon production. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 78 , 10691079.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mestas-Nuñez, A. M., and D. B. Enfield, 1999: Rotated global modes of non-ENSO sea surface temperature variability. J. Climate, 12 , 27342746.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mestas-Nuñez, A. M., and D. B. Enfield, 2001: Eastern equatorial Pacific SST variability: ENSO and non-ENSO components and their climate associations. J. Climate, 14 , 391402.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mo, K. C., and V. E. Kousky, 1993: Further analysis of the relationship between circulation anomaly patterns and tropical convection. J. Geophys. Res, 98 , 51035113.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mo, K. C., G. D. Bell, and W. Thaiw, 2001: Impact of sea surface temperature anomalies on the Atlantic tropical storm activity and West African rainfall. J. Atmos. Sci, 58 , 34773496.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morrissey, M. L., and N. E. Graham, 1996: Recent trends in rain gauge precipitation measurements from the tropical Pacific: Evidence for an enhanced hydrological cycle. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 77 , 12071219.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Namias, J., X. Yuan, and D. R. Cayan, 1988: Persistence of North Pacific sea surface temperature and atmospheric flow patterns. J. Climate, 1 , 682703.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nicholls, N., B. Lavery, C. Fredrickson, and W. Drosdowsky, 1996: Recent apparent changes in relationships between the El Niño– Southern Oscillation and Australian rainfall and temperature. Geophys. Res. Lett, 23 , 33573360.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nicholson, S. E., 1996: Rainfall in the Sahel during 1994. J. Climate, . 9 , 16731676.

  • Nicholson, S. E., and I. M. Palao, 1993: A re-evaluation of rainfall variability in the Sahel. Part I. Characteristics of rainfall variations. Int. J. Climatol, 13 , 371389.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • North, G. R., T. L. Bell, R. F. Cahalan, and F. J. Moeng, 1982: Sampling errors in the estimation of empirical orthogonal functions. Mon. Wea. Rev, 110 , 699706.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rasmusson, E. M., and T. H. Carpenter, 1982: Variations in tropical sea surface temperature and surface wind fields associated with the Southern Oscillation/El Niño. Mon. Wea. Rev, 110 , 354384.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ropelewski, C. F., M. S. Halpert, and X. Wang, 1992: Observed tropospheric biennial variability and its relationship to the Southern Oscillation. J. Climate, 5 , 594614.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rowell, D. P., C. K. Folland, K. Maskell, and N. M. Ward, 1995: . Variability of summer rainfall over tropical North Africa 1906– 92: Observations and modeling. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc, . 121 , 669704.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shinoda, M., 1990: Long-term variability of the tropical African rain belt and its relation to rainfall in the Sahel and northern Kalahari. J. Meteor. Soc. Japan, 68 , 1935.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shinoda, M., 1995: West African rain belt variations: An update to 1990. J. Meteor. Soc. Japan, 73 , 259266.

  • Smith, T. M., R. W. Reynolds, R. E. Livezey, and D. C. Stokes, 1996: Reconstruction of historical sea surface temperatures using empirical orthogonal functions. J. Climate, 9 , 14031420.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thaiw, W. M., J. V. Kousky, and V. Kumar, 1998: Atmospheric circulation associated with recent Sahelian hydrologic anomalies. Proc. Abidjan'98 Conf. on Water Resources Variability in Africa in the XXth Century, Abidian, Ivory Coast, IAHS Publication 252, 63–67.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trenberth, K. E., 1990: Recent observed interdecadal climate changes in the Northern Hemisphere. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 71 , 988993.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trenberth, K. E., and J. W. Hurrell, 1994: Decadal atmosphere–ocean variations in the Pacific. Climate Dyn, 9 , 303319.

  • van Loon, H., and D. J. Shea, 1985: The Southern Oscillation. Part IV: The precursors south of 15°S to the extremes of the oscillation. Mon. Wea. Rev, 113 , 20632074.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ward, M. N., 1998: Diagnosis and short-lead time prediction of summertime rainfall in tropical North Africa at interannual and multidecadal time scales. J. Climate, 11 , 31673191.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wright, P. B., J. M. Wallace, T. P. Mitchell, and C. Deser, 1988: . Correlation structure of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation phenomenon. J. Climate, 1 , 609626.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Xie, P., and P. A. Arkin, 1997: Global precipitation: A 17-year monthly analysis based on gauge observations, satellite estimates, and numerical model outputs. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, 78 , 25392558.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Xue, Y., and J. Shukla, 1993: The influence of land surface properties on Sahel climate. Part I: Desertification. J. Climate, 6 , 22322245.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zeng, N., and J. D. Neelin, 2000: The role of vegetation–climate interaction and interannual variability in the shaping of the African savanna. J. Climate, 13 , 26652670.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zeng, N., J. D. Neelin, K-M. Lau, and C. J. Tucker, 1999: Enhancement of interdecadal climate variability in the Sahel by vegetation interaction. Science, 286 , 15371540.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Y., J. M. Wallace, and D. S. Battisti, 1997: ENSO-like interdecadal variability: 1900–93. J. Climate, 10 , 10041020.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 349 56 3
PDF Downloads 148 34 0