Interactive Feedback between ENSO and the Indian Ocean

Jong-Seong Kug Climate Environment System Research Center, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea

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In-Sik Kang Climate Environment System Research Center, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea

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Abstract

A feedback process of the Indian Ocean SST on ENSO is investigated by using observed data and atmospheric GCM. It is suggested that warming in the Indian Ocean produces an easterly wind stress anomaly over Indonesia and the western edge of the Pacific during the mature phase of El Niño. The anomalous easterly wind in the western Pacific during El Niño helps a rapid termination of El Niño and a fast transition to La Niña by generating upwelling Kelvin waves. Thus, warming in the Indian Ocean, which is a part of the El Niño signal, operates as a negative feedback mechanism to ENSO. This Indian Ocean feedback appears to operate mostly for relatively strong El Niños and results in a La Niña one year after the mature phase of the El Niño. This 1-yr period of phase transition implies a possible role of Indian Ocean–ENSO coupling in the biennial tendency of the ENSO. Atmospheric GCM experiments show that Indian Ocean SST forcing is mostly responsible for the easterly wind anomalies in the western Pacific.

Corresponding author address: Prof. In-Sik Kang, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, South Korea. Email: kang@climate.snu.ac.kr

Abstract

A feedback process of the Indian Ocean SST on ENSO is investigated by using observed data and atmospheric GCM. It is suggested that warming in the Indian Ocean produces an easterly wind stress anomaly over Indonesia and the western edge of the Pacific during the mature phase of El Niño. The anomalous easterly wind in the western Pacific during El Niño helps a rapid termination of El Niño and a fast transition to La Niña by generating upwelling Kelvin waves. Thus, warming in the Indian Ocean, which is a part of the El Niño signal, operates as a negative feedback mechanism to ENSO. This Indian Ocean feedback appears to operate mostly for relatively strong El Niños and results in a La Niña one year after the mature phase of the El Niño. This 1-yr period of phase transition implies a possible role of Indian Ocean–ENSO coupling in the biennial tendency of the ENSO. Atmospheric GCM experiments show that Indian Ocean SST forcing is mostly responsible for the easterly wind anomalies in the western Pacific.

Corresponding author address: Prof. In-Sik Kang, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, South Korea. Email: kang@climate.snu.ac.kr

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