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A Further Study of ENSO Rectification: Results from an OGCM with a Seasonal Cycle

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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, and College of Earth Science, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • | 2 State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (LASG), Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado and NOAA/ESRL, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The potential role that rectification of ENSO plays as a viable mechanism to generate climate anomalies on the decadal and longer time scales demands a thorough study of this process. In this paper, rectification of ENSO was studied using an ocean GCM that has a realistic seasonal cycle. In addition to conducting a pair of forced ocean GCM experiments with and without ENSO fluctuations, as done in a previous study, a forced experiment was also conducted with the sign of wind anomalies reversed, with the goal of clarifying the role of the asymmetry in the wind forcing and more generally to better understand the nonlinear dynamics responsible for the rectification. It is found that the rectification effect of ENSO is to cool the western Pacific warm pool and warm the eastern equatorial Pacific. Further, it is found that when the sign of the wind stress anomalies is reversed the impact of the rectification on the mean state remains almost unchanged. This lack of change is further explained by noting that the upper-ocean temperature and velocity anomalies (T′, u′, υ′, and w′) are found to respond to the wind stress anomalies linearly, except for the strongest El Niño years. Thus, the correlation between T′ and (u′, υ′, w′) [and thus the nonlinear dynamical heating (NDH)] remains the same when the sign of the wind stress anomalies is reversed. Indeed, the spatial patterns of NDH in all four seasons are found to resemble the rectified effect of ENSO in the mean temperature field in the respective seasons, indicating the critical role of NDH in the rectification.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00404.s1.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Yongqiang Yu, LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 40, Hua Yan Li, Beijing 100029, China. E-mail: yyq@lasg.iap.ac.cn

Abstract

The potential role that rectification of ENSO plays as a viable mechanism to generate climate anomalies on the decadal and longer time scales demands a thorough study of this process. In this paper, rectification of ENSO was studied using an ocean GCM that has a realistic seasonal cycle. In addition to conducting a pair of forced ocean GCM experiments with and without ENSO fluctuations, as done in a previous study, a forced experiment was also conducted with the sign of wind anomalies reversed, with the goal of clarifying the role of the asymmetry in the wind forcing and more generally to better understand the nonlinear dynamics responsible for the rectification. It is found that the rectification effect of ENSO is to cool the western Pacific warm pool and warm the eastern equatorial Pacific. Further, it is found that when the sign of the wind stress anomalies is reversed the impact of the rectification on the mean state remains almost unchanged. This lack of change is further explained by noting that the upper-ocean temperature and velocity anomalies (T′, u′, υ′, and w′) are found to respond to the wind stress anomalies linearly, except for the strongest El Niño years. Thus, the correlation between T′ and (u′, υ′, w′) [and thus the nonlinear dynamical heating (NDH)] remains the same when the sign of the wind stress anomalies is reversed. Indeed, the spatial patterns of NDH in all four seasons are found to resemble the rectified effect of ENSO in the mean temperature field in the respective seasons, indicating the critical role of NDH in the rectification.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00404.s1.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Yongqiang Yu, LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 40, Hua Yan Li, Beijing 100029, China. E-mail: yyq@lasg.iap.ac.cn

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