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Aaron B. Wilson
,
David H. Bromwich
, and
Keith M. Hines

Abstract

Numerical simulations using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) are conducted based on tropical forcing of El Niño flavors. Though these events occur on a continuum, two general types are simulated based on sea surface temperature anomalies located in the central (CP) or eastern (EP) tropical Pacific. The goal is to assess whether CAM adequately represents the transient eddy dynamics associated with each of these El Niño flavors under different southern annular mode (SAM) regimes. CAM captures well the wide spatial and temporal variability associated with the SAM but only accurately simulates the impacts on atmospheric circulation in the high southern latitudes when the observed SAM phase is matched by the model. Composites of in-phase (El Niño–SAM−) and out-of-phase (El Niño–SAM+) events confirm a seasonal preference for in-phase (out of phase) events during December–February (DJF) [June–August (JJA)]. Modeled in-phase events for both EP (during DJF) and CP (during JJA) conditions support observations of anomalous equatorward momentum flux on the equatorward side of the eddy-driven jet, shifting this jet equatorward and consistent with the low phase of the SAM. Out-of-phase composites show that the El Niño–associated teleconnection to the high southern latitudes is strongly modulated by the SAM, as a strong eddy-driven jet is well maintained by high-latitude transient eddy convergence despite the tropical forcing. A regional perspective confirms that this interaction takes place primarily over the Pacific Ocean, with high-latitude circulation variability being a product of both tropical and high-latitude forcing.

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