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Winter Persistence Barrier of Sea Surface Temperature in the Northern Tropical Atlantic Associated with ENSO

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  • 1 State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (LASG), Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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Abstract

This study investigates the persistence characteristics of the sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) in the northern tropical Atlantic (NTA). It is found that a persistence barrier exists around December and January. This winter persistence barrier (WPB) is prominent during the mature phase of strong ENSO events but becomes indistinct during weak ENSO and normal (non-ENSO) events. During strong El Niño events, the NTA SSTA shows a reversal in sign and a rapid warming during December and January. It is possible that this SSTA sign reversal reduces the persistence, leading to the occurrence of the NTA WPB. The present analyses indicate a dynamic relationship among the Pacific ENSO, the NTA SSTA, and the NTA WPB on a quasi-biennial time scale: a strong El Niño event is usually preceded by a strong La Niña event, which leads to a sign reversal of the NTA SSTA in winter as a delayed response to ENSO, finally resulting in the NTA WPB. Analyses also suggest that the NTA WPB is affected by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The NAO enhances the persistence of the NTA SSTA during winter, tending to weaken the NTA WPB.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jianping Li, State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10029, China. E-mail: ljp@lasg.iap.ac.cn

Abstract

This study investigates the persistence characteristics of the sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) in the northern tropical Atlantic (NTA). It is found that a persistence barrier exists around December and January. This winter persistence barrier (WPB) is prominent during the mature phase of strong ENSO events but becomes indistinct during weak ENSO and normal (non-ENSO) events. During strong El Niño events, the NTA SSTA shows a reversal in sign and a rapid warming during December and January. It is possible that this SSTA sign reversal reduces the persistence, leading to the occurrence of the NTA WPB. The present analyses indicate a dynamic relationship among the Pacific ENSO, the NTA SSTA, and the NTA WPB on a quasi-biennial time scale: a strong El Niño event is usually preceded by a strong La Niña event, which leads to a sign reversal of the NTA SSTA in winter as a delayed response to ENSO, finally resulting in the NTA WPB. Analyses also suggest that the NTA WPB is affected by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The NAO enhances the persistence of the NTA SSTA during winter, tending to weaken the NTA WPB.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jianping Li, State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10029, China. E-mail: ljp@lasg.iap.ac.cn
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