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Jin-Yi Yu
and
Carlos R. Mechoso

Abstract

This study examines interannual variability produced by a recent version of the University of California, Los Angeles, coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (CGCM). The CGCM is shown to produce ENSO-like climate variability with reasonable frequency and amplitude. A multichannel singular spectrum analysis identifies the simulated ENSO cycle and permits examination of the associated evolution of atmospheric and oceanic states. During the cycle, the evolution of upper-ocean heat content in the tropical Pacific is characterized by a zonal oscillation between the western and eastern equatorial Pacific and a meridional oscillation between the equator and 10°N. The zonal oscillation is related to the amplification of the cycle, and the meridional oscillation is related to the transition between phases of the cycle. It is found that the north–south ocean heat content difference always reaches a threshold near the onset of a warm/cold event.

The three-dimensional evolution of ocean temperature anomalies in the tropical Pacific during the simulated ENSO cycle is characterized by four major features: 1) a build up in the subsurface of the western equatorial sector during the pre-onset stage, 2) a fast spread from the western subsurface to the eastern surface along the equator during the onset stage, 3) a zonal extension and amplification at the surface during the growth stage, and 4) a northward and downward spread during the decay stage.

Ocean temperature budget analyses show that the buildup of subsurface temperature anomalies is dominated by the vertical advection process in the western sector and the meridional advection process in the central sector. The former process is associated with vertical displacements of the thermocline, which is an important element of the delayed oscillator theory. The latter process is associated with a Sverdrup imbalance between trade wind and thermocline anomalies and is emphasized as the primary charge–discharge process by the recharge oscillator theory. It is argued that both processes play key roles in producing subsurface ocean memory for the phase transitions of the ENSO cycle.

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Jin-Yi Yu
and
Carlos R. Mechoso

Abstract

This paper contrasts the sea surface temperature (SST) and surface heat flux errors in the Tropical Pacific simulated by the University of California, Los Angeles, coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (CGCM) and by its atmospheric component (AGCM) using prescribed SSTs. The usefulness of such a comparison is discussed in view of the sensitivities of the coupled system.

Off the equator, the CGCM simulates more realistic surface heat fluxes than the AGCM, except in the eastern Pacific south of the equator where the coupled model produces a spurious intertropical convergence zone. The AGCM errors are dominated by excessive latent heat flux, except in the stratus regions along the coasts of California and Peru where errors are dominated by excessive shortwave flux. The CGCM tends to balance the AGCM errors by either correctly decreasing the evaporation at the expense of cold SST biases or erroneously increasing the evaporation at the expense of warm SST biases.

At the equator, errors in simulated SSTs are amplified by the feedbacks of the coupled system. Over the western equatorial Pacific, the CGCM produces a cold SST bias that is a manifestation of a spuriously elongated cold tongue. The AGCM produces realistic values of surface heat flux. Over the cold tongue in the eastern equatorial Pacific, the CGCM simulates realistic annual variations in SST. In the simulation, however, the relationship between variations in SST and surface latent heat flux corresponds to a negative feedback, while in the observation it corresponds to a positive feedback. Such an erroneous feature of the CGCM is linked to deficiencies in the simulation of the cross-equatorial component of the surface wind. The reasons for the success in the simulation of SST in the equatorial cold tongue despite the erroneous surface heat flux are examined.

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Jin-Yi Yu
and
Carlos R. Mechoso

Abstract

The hypothesis that Peruvian stratocumulus play an important role on both the annual mean and annual variations of sea surface temperature (SST) in the eastern equatorial Pacific is examined. The problem is addressed by performing sensitivity experiments using the University of California, Los Angeles, coupled atmosphere–ocean GCM with different idealized temporal variations of stratocumulus in a region along the coast of Peru.

The results obtained are consistent with the notion that Peruvian stratocumulus are a key component of the interhemispherically asymmetric features that characterize the annual mean climate of the eastern equatorial Pacific, including the cold SSTs off Peru and the absence of a southern ITCZ. The principal new finding of this study is that the annual variations (i.e., deviations from the annual mean) of Peruvian stratocumulus are linked to the differences between the amplitude, duration, and westward propagation of the warm and cold phases of the equatorial cold tongue. In the model’s context, only if the prescribed annual variations of Peruvian stratocumulus have the same phase as the observed variations are those differences successfully captured.

The impact of Peruvian stratocumulus on equatorial SST involves “dynamical” and “thermal” effects. The former develop through an enhancement of the northerly component of the surface wind from the Peruvian coast to the equator. The thermal effects develop through the special relationships between SST and surface evaporation over the equatorial cold tongue, which contributes to extend the cold phase until the end of the year. A successful portrayal of this behavior requires a realistic simulation of the annual variations of surface wind over the equatorial cold tongue.

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Yong-Fu Lin
and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

This study explores the key differences between single-year (SY) and multiyear (MY) El Niño properties and examines their relative importance in causing the diverse evolution of El Niño. Using a CESM1 simulation, observation/reanalysis data, and pacemaker coupled model experiments, the study suggests that the Indian Ocean plays a crucial role in distinguishing between the two types of El Niño evolution through subtropical ENSO dynamics. These dynamics can produce MY El Niño events if the climatological northeasterly trade winds are weakened or even reversed over the subtropical Pacific when El Niño peaks. However, El Niño and the positive Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) it typically induces both strengthen the climatological northeasterly trades, preventing the subtropical Pacific dynamics from producing MY events. MY events can occur if the El Niño fails to induce a positive IOD, which is more likely when the El Niño is weak or of the central Pacific type. Additionally, this study finds that such a weak correlation between El Niño and the IOD occurs during decades when the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) is in its positive phase. Statistical analyses and pacemaker coupled model experiments confirm that the positive AMO phase increases the likelihood of these conditions, resulting in a higher frequency of MY El Niño events.

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Kewei Lyu
,
Jin-Yi Yu
, and
Houk Paek

Abstract

The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) has been shown to be capable of exerting significant influences on the Pacific climate. In this study, the authors analyze reanalysis datasets and conduct forced and coupled experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) to explain why the winter North Pacific subtropical high strengthens and expands northwestward during the positive phase of the AMO. The results show that the tropical Atlantic warming associated with the positive AMO phase leads to a westward displacement of the Pacific Walker circulation and a cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean, thereby inducing anomalous descending motion over the central tropical Pacific. The descending motion then excites a stationary Rossby wave pattern that extends northward to produce a nearly barotropic anticyclone over the North Pacific. A diagnosis based on the quasigeostrophic vertical velocity equation reveals that the stationary wave pattern also results in enhanced subsidence over the northeastern Pacific via the anomalous advections of vorticity and temperature. The anomalous barotropic anticyclone and the enhanced subsidence are the two mechanisms that increase the sea level pressure over the North Pacific. The latter mechanism occurs to the southeast of the former one and thus is more influential in the subtropical high region. Both mechanisms can be produced in forced and coupled AGCMs but are displaced northward as a result of stationary wave patterns that differ from those observed. This explains why the model-simulated North Pacific sea level pressure responses to the AMO tend to be biased northward.

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Pengfei Tuo
,
Jin-Yi Yu
, and
Jianyu Hu

Abstract

This study finds that the correlation between El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the activity of mesoscale oceanic eddies in the South China Sea (SCS) changed around 2004. The mesoscale eddy number determined from satellite altimetry observations using a geometry of the velocity vector method was significantly and negatively correlated with the Niño-3.4 index before 2004, but the correlation weakened and became insignificant afterward. Further analyses reveal that the ENSO–eddy relation is controlled by two major wind stress forcing mechanisms: one directly related to ENSO and the other indirectly related to ENSO through its subtropical precursor—the Pacific meridional modes (PMMs). Both mechanisms induce wind stress curl variations over the SCS that link ENSO to SCS eddy activities. While the direct ENSO mechanism always induces a negative ENSO–eddy correlation through the Walker circulation, the indirect mechanism is dominated by the northern PMM (nPMM), resulting in a negative ENSO–eddy correlation before 2004, and by the southern PMM (sPMM) after 2004, resulting in a positive ENSO–eddy correlation. As a result, the direct and indirect mechanisms enhance each other to produce a significant ENSO–eddy relation before 2004, but they cancel each other out, resulting in a weak ENSO–eddy relation afterward. The relative strengths of the northern and southern PMMs are the key to determining the ENSO–eddy relation and may be related to a phase change of the interdecadal Pacific oscillation.

Open access
Seon Tae Kim
,
Jin-Yi Yu
,
Arun Kumar
, and
Hui Wang

Abstract

Two types of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) simulated by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Forecast System (CFS) model are examined. The model is found to produce both the eastern Pacific (EP) and central Pacific (CP) types of ENSO with spatial patterns and temporal evolutions similar to the observed. The simulated ENSO intensity is comparable to the observed for the EP type, but weaker than the observed for the CP type. Further analyses reveal that the generation of the simulated CP ENSO is linked to extratropical forcing associated with the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) and that the model is capable of simulating the coupled air–sea processes in the subtropical Pacific that slowly spreads the NPO-induced SST variability into the tropics, as shown in the observations. The simulated NPO, however, does not extend as far into the deep tropics as it does in the observations and the coupling in the model is not sustained as long as it is in the observations. As a result, the extratropical forcing of tropical central Pacific SST variability in the CFS model is weaker than in the observations. An additional analysis with the Bjerknes stability index indicates that the weaker CP ENSO in the CFS model is also partially due to unrealistically weak zonal advective feedback in the equatorial Pacific. These model deficiencies appear to be related to an underestimation in the amount of the marine stratus clouds off the North American coasts inducing an ocean surface warm bias in the eastern Pacific. This study suggests that a realistic simulation of these marine stratus clouds can be important for the CP ENSO simulation.

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Carlos R. Mechoso
,
J. David Neelin
, and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

The realistic simulation of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (CGCM) is used to test two simple theoretical models of the phenomenon: the recharge oscillator model of Jin and the delayed oscillator model of Schopf, Suarez, Battisti, and Hirst (SSBH). The target for the simple models is provided by the CGCM results prefiltered with singular spectrum analysis to extract the leading oscillatory mode. In its simplest form, the Jin model can be reduced to two first ordinary differential equations. If the parameters of the model are fit in this reduced form, it appears to capture the period of the CGCM oscillatory mode. If the Jin model is instead fit using the individual physical balances that are used to derive it, substantial misfits to the CGCM are encountered. The SSBH model can likewise be expressed either in a condensed form or a larger set of individual physical balances with highly analogous results.

It is shown that the misfits in both simple models can be greatly reduced by introducing a spinup timescale for wind stress relative to eastern equatorial Pacific SST. In the CGCM, this spinup time appears to be associated with a combination of atmospheric and ocean mixed layer processes in a way consistent with the “mixed mode” regime discussed by Syu and Neelin, which is not included in the Jin and SSBH models. These appear indistinguishable in this analysis, although the latter is more sensitive to fitting.

This paper provides a bridge between work on ENSO by theoreticians and numerical modelers. The CGCM results validate the conceptual framework of the simple models by demonstrating that they can provide a plausible representation of ENSO with realistic sets of parameters. The results also suggest that, in terms of realistic ENSO variability, the framework of the simple models can be made substantially more complete by including the adjustment time between wind stress and eastern Pacific SST required by the coupled spinup of the atmosphere and the ocean mixed layer processes outside this region.

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Jin-Yi Yu
,
Shu-Ping Weng
, and
John D. Farrara

Abstract

This study uses a series of coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (CGCM) experiments to examine the roles of the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the transition phases of the tropospheric biennial oscillation (TBO) in the Indian–Australian monsoon system. In each of the three CGCM experiments, air–sea interactions are restricted to a certain portion of the Indo-Pacific Ocean by including only that portion of the ocean in the ocean model component of the CGCM. The results show that the in-phase TBO transition from a strong (weak) Indian summer monsoon to a strong (weak) Australian summer monsoon occurs more often in the CGCM experiments that include an interactive Pacific Ocean. The out-of-phase TBO transition from a strong (weak) Australian summer monsoon to a weak (strong) Indian summer monsoon occurs more often in the CGCM experiments that include an interactive Indian Ocean. The associated sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are characterized by an ENSO-type pattern in the Pacific Ocean and basinwide warming/cooling in the Indian Ocean. The Pacific SST anomalies maintain large amplitude during the in-phase transition in the northern autumn and reverse their sign during the out-of-phase transition in the northern spring. On the other hand, the Indian Ocean SST anomalies maintain large amplitude during the out-of-phase monsoon transition and reverse their sign during the in-phase transition. These seasonally dependent evolutions of Indian and Pacific Ocean SST anomalies allow these two oceans to play different roles in the transition phases of the TBO in the Indian–Australian monsoon system.

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Jin-Yi Yu
,
Hsun-Ying Kao
, and
Tong Lee

Abstract

Interannual sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the central equatorial Pacific consists of a component related to eastern Pacific SST variations (called Type-1 SST variability) and a component not related to them (called Type-2 SST variability). Lead–lagged regression and ocean surface-layer temperature balance analyses were performed to contrast their control mechanisms. Type-1 variability is part of the canonical, which is characterized by SST anomalies extending from the South American coast to the central Pacific, is coupled with the Southern Oscillation, and is associated with basinwide subsurface ocean variations. This type of variability is dominated by a major 4–5-yr periodicity and a minor biennial (2–2.5 yr) periodicity. In contrast, Type-2 variability is dominated by a biennial periodicity, is associated with local air–sea interactions, and lacks a basinwide anomaly structure. In addition, Type-2 SST variability exhibits a strong connection to the subtropics of both hemispheres, particularly the Northern Hemisphere. Type-2 SST anomalies appear first in the northeastern subtropical Pacific and later spread toward the central equatorial Pacific, being generated in both regions by anomalous surface heat flux forcing associated with wind anomalies. The SST anomalies undergo rapid intensification in the central equatorial Pacific through ocean advection processes, and eventually decay as a result of surface heat flux damping and zonal advection. The southward spreading of trade wind anomalies within the northeastern subtropics-to-central tropics pathway of Type-2 variability is associated with intensity variations of the subtropical high. Type-2 variability is found to become stronger after 1990, associated with a concurrent increase in the subtropical variability. It is concluded that Type-2 interannual variability represents a subtropical-excited phenomenon that is different from the conventional ENSO Type-1 variability.

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