Observed global mean state changes modulating the collective influence of the tropical Atlantic and Indian oceans on ENSO

Verónica Martín-Gómez 1Earth Science Department, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Spain

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Belén Rodríguez-Fonseca 2Earth Physics and Astrophysics Department, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
3Instituto de Geociencias (IGEO), CSIC, Madrid

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Irene Polo 2Earth Physics and Astrophysics Department, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

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Marta Martín-Rey 2Earth Physics and Astrophysics Department, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
3Instituto de Geociencias (IGEO), CSIC, Madrid

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Abstract

In the last decades, many efforts have been made to understand how different tropical oceanic basins are able to impact El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). However, the collective connectivity among the tropical oceans and their associated influence on ENSO is less understood. Using a complex network methodology, the degree of collective connectivity among the tropical oceans is analyzed focusing on the detection of periods when the tropical basins collectively interact and Atlantic and Indian basins influence the equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures (SST). The background state for the periods of strong collective connectivity is also investigated.

Our results show a marked multidecadal variability in the tropical interbasin connection, with periods of stronger and weaker collective connectivity. These changes seem to be modulated by changes in the North Atlantic ocean mean state a decade in advance. In particular, strong connectivity occurs in periods with colder than average tropical north Atlantic surface ocean. Associated with this cooling an anomalous convergence of the vertical integral of total energy flux (VIEF) takes place over the tropical north-west Atlantic, associated with anomalous divergence of VIEF over the equatorial eastern Pacific. In turn, an anomalous zonal surface pressure gradient over the tropical Pacific weakens the trades over the western equatorial Pacific. Consequently, a shallower thermocline emerges over the western equatorial Pacific, which can enhance thermocline feedbacks, the triggering of ENSO events, and therefore, ENSO variability. By construction, our results put forward opposite conditions for periods of weak tropical basins connectivity. These results have important implications for seasonal to decadal predictions.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Verónica Martín-Gómez, email: vero.martin.gomez@gmail.com

Abstract

In the last decades, many efforts have been made to understand how different tropical oceanic basins are able to impact El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). However, the collective connectivity among the tropical oceans and their associated influence on ENSO is less understood. Using a complex network methodology, the degree of collective connectivity among the tropical oceans is analyzed focusing on the detection of periods when the tropical basins collectively interact and Atlantic and Indian basins influence the equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures (SST). The background state for the periods of strong collective connectivity is also investigated.

Our results show a marked multidecadal variability in the tropical interbasin connection, with periods of stronger and weaker collective connectivity. These changes seem to be modulated by changes in the North Atlantic ocean mean state a decade in advance. In particular, strong connectivity occurs in periods with colder than average tropical north Atlantic surface ocean. Associated with this cooling an anomalous convergence of the vertical integral of total energy flux (VIEF) takes place over the tropical north-west Atlantic, associated with anomalous divergence of VIEF over the equatorial eastern Pacific. In turn, an anomalous zonal surface pressure gradient over the tropical Pacific weakens the trades over the western equatorial Pacific. Consequently, a shallower thermocline emerges over the western equatorial Pacific, which can enhance thermocline feedbacks, the triggering of ENSO events, and therefore, ENSO variability. By construction, our results put forward opposite conditions for periods of weak tropical basins connectivity. These results have important implications for seasonal to decadal predictions.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Verónica Martín-Gómez, email: vero.martin.gomez@gmail.com
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