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Bo Lu, Fei-Fei Jin, and Hong-Li Ren

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most active interannual climatic mode, with great global impacts. The state-of-the-art climate models can simulate this dominant mode variability to a large extent. Nevertheless, some of ENSO’s fundamental time–space characteristics still have a large spread in the simulations across the array of recent climate models. For example, the large biases of ENSO periodicity still exist among model simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Based on the recharge oscillator framework, a coupled dynamic index for ENSO periodicity is proposed in this study, referred to as the Wyrtki index, in parallel to the Bjerknes index for ENSO instability. The Wyrtki index provides an approximate dynamic measure for ENSO linear periodicity. It has two main contribution terms: the thermocline and zonal advective feedbacks (or F factor) multiplied by the efficiency factor B of discharging–recharging of the equatorial heat content driven by ENSO wind stress anomalies. It is demonstrated that the diversity of simulated ENSO periodicity in CMIP5 models results from the biases in mean state and several key parameters that control ENSO dynamics. A larger F factor would result in a shorter ENSO period [e.g., BCC_CSM1.1(m)], whereas a smaller B factor would lead to a longer ENSO period (e.g., HadGEM2-ES). The Wyrtki index serves as a useful tool for a quantitative assessment of the sources for ENSO periodicity in reanalysis data and its biases in CMIP5 model simulations.

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Hong-Li Ren, Fei-Fei Jin, and Jong-Seong Kug

Abstract

Synoptic eddy and low-frequency flow (SELF) feedback plays an important role in reinforcing low-frequency variability (LFV). Recent studies showed that an eddy-induced growth (EIG) or instability makes a fundamental contribution to the maintenance of LFV. To quantify the efficiency of the SELF feedback, this study examines the spatiotemporal features of the empirical diagnostics of EIG and its associations with LFV. The results show that, in terms of eddy vorticity forcing, the EIG rate of LFV is generally larger (smaller) in the upper (lower) troposphere, whereas, in terms of eddy potential vorticity forcing, it is larger in the lower troposphere to partly balance the damping effect of surface friction. The local EIG rate shows a horizontal spatial distribution that corresponds to storm-track activity, which tends to be responsible for maintaining LFV amplitudes and patterns as well as sustaining eddy-driven jets. In fact, the EIG rate has a well-defined seasonality, being generally larger in cold seasons and smaller in the warmest season, and this seasonality is stronger in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere. This study also reveals a mid- to late winter (January–March) suppression of the EIG rate in the Northern Hemisphere, which indicates a reduced eddy feedback efficiency and may be largely attributed to the eddy kinetic energy suppression and the midlatitude zonal wind maximum in the midwinter of the Northern Hemisphere.

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Pengfei Ren, Daehyun Kim, Min-Seop Ahn, Daehyun Kang, and Hong-Li Ren

Abstract

This study conducts an intercomparison of the column-integrated moist static energy (MSE) and water vapor budget of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) among six modern global reanalysis products (RAs). Inter-RA differences in the mean MSE, MJO MSE anomalies, individual MSE budget terms, and their relative contributions to the propagation and maintenance of MJO MSE anomalies are examined. Also investigated is the relationship between the MJO column water vapor (CWV) budget residuals with the other CWV budget terms as well as with the two parameters that characterize cloud–radiation feedback and moisture–convection coupling. Results show a noticeable inter-RA spread in the mean-state MSE, especially its vertical structure. In all RAs, horizontal MSE advection dominates the propagation of the MJO MSE while column-integrated longwave radiative heating and vertical MSE advection are found to be the key processes for MJO maintenance. The MSE budget terms directly affected by the model parameterization schemes exhibit high uncertainty. The differences in anomalous vertical velocity mainly contribute to the large differences in vertical MSE advection among the RAs. The budget residuals show large inter-RA differences and have nonnegligible contributions to MJO maintenance and propagation in most RAs. RAs that underestimate (overestimate) the strength of cloud–radiation feedback and the convective moisture adjustment time scale tend to have positive (negative) MJO CWV budget residual, indicating the critical role of these processes in the maintenance of MJO CWV anomalies. Our results emphasize that a correct representation of the interactions among moisture, convection, cloud, and radiation is the key for an accurate depiction of the MJO MSE and CWV budget in RAs.

Open access
Fumin Ren, Chenchen Ding, Da-Lin Zhang, Deliang Chen, Hong-li Ren, and Wenyu Qiu

Abstract

Combining dynamical models with statistical algorithms is an important way to improve weather and climate prediction. In this study, a concept of a perfect model, whose solutions are from observations, is introduced, and a dynamical-statistical-analog ensemble forecast (DSAEF) model is developed as an initial-value problem of the perfect model. This new analog-based forecast model consists of the following three steps: (i) construct generalized initial value (GIV), (ii) identify analogs from historical observations, and (iii) produce an ensemble of predictands. The first step includes all appropriate variables, not only at an instant state but also during their temporal evolution, that play an important role in determining the accuracy of each predictand. An application of the DSAEF model is illustrated through the prediction of accumulated rainfall associated with 21 landfalling typhoons occurring over South China during the years of 2012–16. Assuming a reliable forecast of landfalling typhoon track, two different experiments are conducted, in which the GIV is constructed by including (i) typhoon track only; and (ii) both typhoon track and landfall season. Results show overall better performance of the second experiment than the first one in predicting heavy accumulated rainfall in the training sample tests. In addition, the forecast performance of both experiments is comparable to the operational numerical weather prediction models currently used in China, the United States, and Europe. Some limitations and future improvements as well as comparisons with some existing analog ensemble models are also discussed.

Open access
Wenjun Zhang, Fei-Fei Jin, Jing-Xia Zhao, Li Qi, and Hong-Li Ren

Abstract

A severe drought struck southwest China during autumn 2009, which had a huge impact on productivity and the lives of the affected population. A nonconventional El Niño, the so-called warm pool (WP) El Niño, was supposed to be a principal factor of this strong autumn drought. In sharp contrast to a conventional El Niño, in the 2009 WP El Niño year the maximum sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are confined to the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. Moreover, this WP El Niño was characterized by the relatively farther westward location and the strongest intensity among the WP El Niño events in the past 60 years. Observations and modeling studies both indicate that the rainfall deficits over southwest China are significantly influenced by the combined effects of the location and intensity of the WP El Niño. That is, the drought over southwest China tends to be more severe when the warming SST anomalies associated with the WP El Niño are located farther westward and are stronger. Therefore, the strong autumn drought over southwest China in 2009 can be largely attributed to the concurrent distinctive WP El Niño, which generates a strongly anomalous cyclone over the west North Pacific and leads to a serious reduction in rainfall over southwest China. The influence of the Indian Ocean warming on autumn rainfall over southwest China was also examined but seems to have little contribution to this drought.

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Tao Lian, Jun Ying, Hong-Li Ren, Chan Zhang, Ting Liu, and Xiao-Xiao Tan

Abstract

Numerous studies have investigated the role of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in modulating the activity of tropical cyclones (TCs) in the western Pacific on interannual time scales, but the effects of TCs on ENSO are less discussed. Some studies have found that TCs sharply increase surface westerly anomalies over the equatorial western–central Pacific and maintain them there for a few days. Given the strong influence of equatorial surface westerly wind bursts on ENSO, as confirmed by much recent literature, the effects of TCs on ENSO may be much greater than previously expected. Using recently released observations and reanalysis datasets, it is found that the majority of near-equatorial TCs (simply TCs hereafter) are associated with strong westerly anomalies at the equator, and the number and longitude of TCs are significantly correlated with ENSO strength. When TC-related wind stresses are added into an intermediate coupled model, the simulated ENSO becomes more irregular, and both ENSO magnitude and skewness approach those of observations, as compared with simulations without TCs. Adding TCs into the model system does not break the linkage between the heat content anomaly and subsequent ENSO event in the model, which manifest the classic recharge–discharge ENSO dynamics. However, the influence of TCs on ENSO is so strong that ENSO magnitude and sometimes its final state—that is, either El Niño or La Niña—largely depend on the number and timing of TCs during the event year. Our findings suggest that TCs play a prominent role in ENSO dynamics, and their effects must be considered in ENSO forecast models.

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Zeng-Zhen Hu, Arun Kumar, Hong-Li Ren, Hui Wang, Michelle L’Heureux, and Fei-Fei Jin

Abstract

An interdecadal shift in the variability and mean state of the tropical Pacific Ocean is investigated within the context of changes in El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Compared with 1979–99, the interannual variability in the tropical Pacific was significantly weaker in 2000–11, and this shift can be seen by coherent changes in both the tropical atmosphere and ocean. For example, the equatorial thermocline tilt became steeper during 2000–11, which was consistent with positive (negative) sea surface temperature anomalies, increased (decreased) precipitation, and enhanced (suppressed) convection in the western (central and eastern) tropical Pacific, which reflected an intensification of the Walker circulation.

The combination of a steeper thermocline slope with stronger surface trade winds is proposed to have hampered the eastward migration of the warm water along the equatorial Pacific. As a consequence, the variability of the warm water volume was reduced and thus ENSO amplitude also decreased. Sensitivity experiments with the Zebiak–Cane model confirm the link between thermocline slope, wind stress, and the amplitude of ENSO.

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Samantha Ferrett, Matthew Collins, Hong-Li Ren, Bo Wu, and Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

The role of tropical mean-state biases in El Niño–Southern Oscillation teleconnections in the winter Northern Hemisphere is examined in coupled general circulation models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The main North Pacific teleconnection pattern, defined here by the strengths of the anomalous Kuroshio anticyclone and North Pacific cyclone, is linked to two anomalous Rossby wave sources that occur during El Niño: a negative source over East Asia and a positive source to the west of the North Pacific. Errors in the teleconnection pattern in models are associated with spatial biases in mean atmospheric ascent and descent and the strength of the corresponding forcing of Rossby waves via suppressed or enhanced El Niño precipitation responses in the tropical western North Pacific (WNP) and the equatorial central Pacific (CP). The WNP El Niño precipitation response is most strongly linked to the strength of the Kuroshio anticyclone and the CP El Niño precipitation response is most strongly linked to the strength of the North Pacific cyclone. The mean state and corresponding El Niño precipitation response can have seemingly distinct biases. A bias in the WNP does not necessarily correspond to a bias in the CP, suggesting that improvement of biases in both tropical WNP and equatorial CP regions should be considered for an accurate teleconnection pattern.

Free access
Joshua-Xiouhua Fu, Wanqiu Wang, Yuejian Zhu, Hong-Li Ren, Xiaolong Jia, and Toshiaki Shinoda

Abstract

Six sets of hindcasts conducted with the NCEP GFS have been used to study the SST-feedback processes and assess the relative contributions of atmospheric internal dynamics and SST feedback on the October and November MJO events observed during the DYNAMO IOP (Oct- and Nov-MJO). The hindcasts are carried out with three variants of the Arakawa–Shubert cumulus scheme under TMI and climatological SST conditions. The positive intraseasonal SST anomaly along with its convergent Laplacian produces systematic surface disturbances, which include enhanced surface convergence, evaporation, and equivalent potential temperature no matter which cumulus scheme is used. Whether these surface disturbances can grow into a robust response of MJO convection depends on the characteristics of the cumulus schemes used. If the cumulus scheme is able to amplify the SST-initiated surface disturbances through a strong upward–downward feedback, the model is able to produce a robust MJO convection response to the underlying SST anomaly; otherwise, the model will not produce any significant SST feedback. A new method has been developed to quantify the “potential” and “practical” contributions of the atmospheric internal dynamics and SST feedback on the MJOs. The present results suggest that, potentially, the SST feedback could have larger contributions than the atmospheric internal dynamics. Practically, the contributions to the Oct- and Nov-MJO events are, respectively, dominated by atmospheric internal dynamics and SST feedback. Averaged over the entire period, the contributions from the atmospheric internal dynamics and SST feedback are about half and half.

Open access
Sen Zhao, Malte F. Stuecker, Fei-Fei Jin, Juan Feng, Hong-Li Ren, Wenjun Zhang, and Jianping Li

Abstract

This study assesses the predictive skill of eight North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) models in predicting the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD). We find that the forecasted ensemble-mean IOD–El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) relationship deteriorates away from the observed relationship with increasing lead time, which might be one reason that limits the IOD predictive skill in coupled models. We are able to improve the IOD predictive skill using a recently developed stochastic dynamical model (SDM) forced by forecasted ENSO conditions. The results are consistent with the previous result that operational IOD predictability beyond persistence at lead times beyond one season is mostly controlled by ENSO predictability and the signal-to-noise ratio of the Indo-Pacific climate system. The multimodel ensemble (MME) investigated here is found to be of superior skill compared to each individual model at most lead times. Importantly, the skill of the SDM IOD predictions forced with forecasted ENSO conditions were either similar or better than those of the MME IOD forecasts. Moreover, the SDM forced with observed ENSO conditions exhibits significantly higher IOD prediction skill than the MME at longer lead times, suggesting the large potential skill increase that could be achieved by improving operational ENSO forecasts. We find that both cold and warm biases of the predicted Niño-3.4 index may cause false alarms of negative and positive IOD events, respectively, in NMME models. Many false alarms for IOD forecasts at lead times longer than one season in the original forecasts disappear or are significantly reduced in the SDM forced by forecasted ENSO conditions.

Open access