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Giorgio Graffino, Riccardo Farneti, Fred Kucharski, and Franco Molteni

Abstract

The importance of subtropical and extratropical zonal wind stress anomalies on Pacific subtropical cell (STC) strength is assessed through several idealized and realistic numerical experiments with a global ocean model. Different zonal wind stress anomalies are employed, and their intensity is strengthened or weakened with respect to the climatological value throughout a suite of simulations. Subtropical strengthened (weakened) zonal wind stress anomalies result in increased (decreased) STC meridional mass and energy transport. When upwelling of subsurface water into the tropics is intensified (reduced), a distinct cold (warm) anomaly appears in the equatorial thermocline and up to the surface, resulting in significant tropical sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. The use of realistic wind stress anomalies also suggests a potential impact of midlatitude atmospheric modes of variability on tropical climate through STC dynamics. The remotely driven response is compared with a set of simulations where an equatorial zonal wind stress anomaly is imposed. A dynamically distinct response is achieved, whereby the equatorial thermocline adjusts to the wind stress anomaly, resulting in significant equatorial SST anomalies as in the remotely forced simulations but with no role for STCs. Significant anomalies in Indonesian Throughflow transport are generated only when equatorial wind stress anomalies are applied, leading to remarkable heat content anomalies in the Indian Ocean. Equatorial wind stress anomalies do not involve modifications of STC transport but could set up the appropriate initial conditions for a tropical–extratropical teleconnection involving Hadley cells, exciting an STC anomalous transport, which ultimately feeds back on the tropics.

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Katarina Kosovelj, Fred Kucharski, Franco Molteni, and Nedjeljka Žagar

Abstract

The paper presents four ensembles of numerical experiments that compare the response to monopole and dipole heating perturbations resembling different phases of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The results quantify the Rossby and inertio-gravity (IG) wave response using the normal-mode function decomposition. The day 3 response is characterized by about 60% variance in the IG modes, with about 85% of it belonging to the Kelvin waves. On day 14, only 10% of the response variance is due to the Kelvin waves. Although the n = 1 Rossby mode is the main contributor to the Rossby variance at all time scales, the n > 1 Rossby modes contribute over 50% of the balanced response to the MJO heating. In the short range, dipole perturbations produce a response with the maximal variance in zonal wavenumbers k = 2–3 whereas in the medium range the response maximizes at k = 1 in all experiments. Furthermore, the medium-range response to the heating perturbation mimicking MJO phase 6 is found also over Europe.

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In-Sik Kang, Hyun-ho No, and Fred Kucharski

Abstract

The mechanism associated with the modulation of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) amplitude caused by the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) is investigated by using long-term historical observational data and various types of models. The observational data for the period 1900–2013 show that the ENSO variability weakened during the positive phase of the AMO and strengthened in the negative phase. Such a relationship between the AMO and ENSO amplitude has been reported by a number of previous studies. In the present study the authors demonstrate that the weakening of the ENSO amplitude during the positive phase of the AMO is related to changes of the SST cooling in the eastern and central Pacific accompanied by the easterly wind stress anomalies in the equatorial central Pacific, which were reproduced reasonably well by coupled general circulation model (CGCM) simulations performed with the Atlantic Ocean SST nudged perpetually with the observed SST representing the positive phase of the AMO and the free integration in the other ocean basins. Using a hybrid coupled model, it was determined that the mechanism associated with the weakening of the ENSO amplitude is related to the westward shift and weakening of the ENSO zonal wind stress anomalies accompanied by the westward shift of precipitation anomalies associated with the relatively cold background mean SST over the central Pacific.

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Manish K. Joshi, Muhammad Adnan Abid, and Fred Kucharski

Abstract

In this study the role of an Indian Ocean heating dipole anomaly in the transition of the North Atlantic–European (NAE) circulation response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) from early to late winter is analyzed using a twentieth-century reanalysis and simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). It is shown that in early winter a warm (cold) ENSO event is connected through an atmospheric bridge with positive (negative) rainfall anomalies in the western Indian Ocean and negative (positive) anomalies in the eastern Indian Ocean. The early winter heating dipole, forced by a warm (cold) ENSO event, can set up a wave train emanating from the subtropical South Asian jet region that reaches the North Atlantic and leads to a response that spatially projects onto the positive (negative) phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation. The Indian Ocean heating dipole is partly forced as an atmospheric teleconnection by ENSO, but can also exist independently and is not strongly related to local Indian Ocean sea surface temperature (SST) forcing. The Indian Ocean heating dipole response to ENSO is much weaker in late winter (i.e., February and March) and not able to force significant signals in the North Atlantic region. CMIP5 multimodel ensemble reproduces the early winter Indian Ocean heating dipole response to ENSO and its transition in the North Atlantic region to some extent, but with weaker amplitude. Generally, models that have a strong early winter ENSO response in the subtropical South Asian jet region along with tropical Indian Ocean heating dipole also reproduce the North Atlantic response.

Open access
In-Sik Kang, Irfan Ur Rashid, Fred Kucharski, Mansour Almazroui, and Abdulrahman K. Alkhalaf

Abstract

Multidecadal variations in the relationship between El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Arabian Peninsula rainfall are investigated using observed data for the last 60 years and various atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments. The wet season in the Arabian Peninsula from November to April was considered. The 6-month averaged Arabian rainfall was negatively correlated with ENSO for an earlier 30-yr period from 1950 to 1979 and positively correlated to ENSO for a more recent period from 1981 to 2010. The multidecadal variations can be attributed to the variations in Indian Ocean SST anomalies accompanied by ENSO. In the early 30-yr period, ENSO accompanied relatively large SST anomalies in the Indian Ocean, whereas in the recent 30-yr period it accompanied relatively small SST anomalies in the Indian Ocean. The atmospheric anomalies in the Arabian region during ENSO are combined responses to the Pacific and Indian Ocean SST anomalies, which offset each other during ENSO. The recent El Niño events accompanied negative 200-hPa geopotential height (GH) anomalies over the Arabian region, mainly forced by the Pacific SST anomalies, resulting in an increase of precipitation over the region. In contrast, in the early 30-yr period, Indian Ocean SST anomalies played a dominant role in the atmospheric responses over the Arabian region during ENSO, and the negative GH anomalies and more precipitation over the Arabian region were mainly forced by the negative SST anomalies over the Indian Ocean, which appeared during La Niña. These observed findings are confirmed by various AGCM experiments.

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Christophe Cassou, Yochanan Kushnir, Ed Hawkins, Anna Pirani, Fred Kucharski, In-Sik Kang, and Nico Caltabiano

Abstract

The study of Decadal Climate Variability (DCV) and Predictability is the interdisciplinary endeavor to characterize, understand, attribute, simulate, and predict the slow, multiyear variations of climate at global (e.g., the recent slowdown of global mean temperature rise in the early 2000s) and regional (e.g., decadal modulation of hurricane activity in the Atlantic, ongoing drought in California or in the Sahel in the 1970s–80s, etc.) scales. This study remains very challenging despite decades of research, extensive progress in climate system modeling, and improvements in the availability and coverage of a wide variety of observations. Considerable obstacles in applying this knowledge to actual predictions remain.

This short article is a succint review paper about DCV and predictability. Based on listed issues and priorities, it also proposes a unifying theme referred to as “drivers of teleconnectivity” as a backbone to address and structure the core DCV research challenge. This framework goes beyond a preoccupation with changes in the global mean temperature and directly addresses the regional impacts of external (natural and anthropogenic) climate forcing and internal climate interactions; it thus explicitly deals with the societal needs for region-specific climate information. Such a framework also enables the integration of efforts in a large international research community toward advancing the observation, characterization, understanding, and prediction of DCV. Recommendations to make progress are provided as part of the contribution of the CLIVAR “DCVP Research Focus” group.

Open access
Muhammad Adnan Abid, Fred Kucharski, Franco Molteni, In-Sik Kang, Adrian M. Tompkins, and Mansour Almazroui

Abstract

The present study focuses on the mechanism that controls the transition of the Euro-Atlantic circulation responses to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) from early (December) to late winter (February) for the period 1981–2015. A positive phase of ENSO induces a precipitation dipole with increased precipitation in the western and reduced precipitation in the eastern tropical Indian Ocean; this occurs mainly during early winter (December) and less so in late winter (February). It is shown that these interbasin atmospheric teleconnections dominate the response in the Euro-Atlantic sector in early winter by modifying the subtropical South Asian jet (SAJET) and forcing a wavenumber-3 response that projects spatially onto the positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) pattern. On the contrary, during late winter, the response in the Euro-Atlantic sector is dominated by the well-known ENSO wave train from the tropical Pacific region, involving extratropical anomalies that project spatially on the positive phase of the Pacific–North American (PNA) pattern and the negative phase of the NAO pattern. Numerical experiments with an atmospheric model (an AGCM) forced by an Indian Ocean heating dipole anomaly support the hypothesis that the Indian Ocean modulates the SAJET and enforces the Rossby wave propagation to the Euro-Atlantic region in early winter. These phenomena are also investigated using the ECMWF SEAS5 reforecast dataset. In SEAS5, the ENSO interbasin tropical teleconnections and the response of the Euro-Atlantic circulation anomalies and their change from early to late winter are realistically predicted, although the strength of the early winter signal originated from the Indian Ocean is underestimated.

Open access
Riccardo Farneti, Suneet Dwivedi, Fred Kucharski, Franco Molteni, and Stephen M. Griffies

Abstract

The evolution of the Pacific subtropical cells (STC) is presented for the period 1948–2007. Using ocean models of different resolutions forced with interannually varying atmospheric forcing datasets, the mechanisms responsible for the observed STC weakening and late recovery during the period of study are analyzed. As a result of the STC weakening (strengthening), warming (cooling) trends are found in the equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Model results agree well with observed estimates of STC transport, STC convergence, and equatorial SST anomalies. It is shown that subtropical atmospheric variability is the primary driver of the STC and equatorial SST low-frequency evolution and is responsible for both the slowdown during the second half of the twentieth century and the rebound at the end of the century. Subtropically forced STC variability is identified as a major player in the generation of equatorial Pacific decadal SST anomalies, pacing tropical Pacific natural climate variability on interdecadal time scales, as observed in historical records. The natural mode of variability has implications for the evolution of equatorial SST in the coming decades under the concomitant effects of climate change.

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Juan Feng, Jianping Li, Fred Kucharski, Yaqi Wang, Cheng Sun, Fei Xie, and Yun Yang

Abstract

By decomposing the variations of the Hadley circulation (HC) and tropical zonal-mean sea surface temperature (SST) into the equatorially asymmetric (HEA for HC, SEA for SST) and symmetric (HES for HC, SES for SST) components, the varying response of the HC to different SST meridional structures under warm and cold conditions of the Indo-Pacific warm pool (IPWP) is investigated over the period 1979–2016. The response of the HC to SST evidences an asymmetric variation between warm and cold IPWP conditions; that is, the response ratio of HEA to SEA relative to that of HES to SES is ~5 under warm conditions and ~2 under cold conditions. This asymmetry is primarily due to a decrease in the HEA-to-SEA ratio under cold IPWP conditions, and is driven by changes in the meridional distribution of SST anomalies. Equatorial asymmetric (symmetric) SST anomalies are dominated by warm (cold) IPWP conditions. Thus, variations of SEA are suppressed under cold IPWP conditions, contributing to the observed weakening of the HEA-to-SEA ratio. The results presented here indicate that the HC is more sensitive to the underlying SST when the IPWP is warmer, during which the variation of SEA is enhanced, suggesting a recent strengthening of the response of the HC to SST, as the IPWP has warmed over the past several decades, and highlighting the importance of the IPWP meridional structures rather than the overall warming of the HC.

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Fred Kucharski, Franco Molteni, Martin P. King, Riccardo Farneti, In-Sik Kang, and Laura Feudale
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