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  • Author or Editor: Yi Jin x
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John D. Farrara
and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

The interannual variability in the southwest U.S. monsoon and its relationship to sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies is investigated via experiments conducted with the University of California, Los Angeles, atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). When the model is run without interannual variations in SSTs at the lower boundary, the simulation of the climatological mean monsoon is quite similar to the observed. In addition, the interannual precipitation variance and wet minus dry monsoon composite differences in the precipitation and monsoon circulation are largely realistic.

When interannual variations in SSTs are introduced, the simulated interannual precipitation variance over the southwest U.S. monsoon region does not increase. Nor do SSTs seem to be important in selecting for wet or dry monsoons in this simulation, as there is little correspondence between observed wet and dry monsoon years and simulated wet and dry years. These results were confirmed through a 20-member ensemble of shorter seasonal simulations forced by an SST anomaly field corresponding to that observed for a wet minus dry southwest U.S. monsoon composite.

When the AGCM is coupled to a mixed-layer ocean model, the pattern of SST anomalies generated in association with wet and dry monsoons is remarkably similar to that observed: there is a large area of positive SST anomalies in the subtropical eastern Pacific Ocean and weaker negative anomalies in the midlatitude North Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. It is demonstrated that the SST anomalies in the Pacific Ocean are forced by anomalies in the net surface solar radiative flux from the atmosphere associated with variations in planetary boundary layer stratus clouds; these variations are enhanced by a positive feedback between SST and stratus cloud variations. The anomalies in the Gulf of Mexico are associated with anomalous latent heat fluxes there. It is concluded that internal atmospheric variations are capable of 1) producing interannual variations in the southwest U.S. monsoon that are comparable to those observed, and 2) thermodynamically forcing the SST anomalies in the adjacent Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico that are observed to accompany these variations. The implications of these results for seasonal forecasting are rather pessimistic since variations associated with internal atmospheric processes cannot be predicted on seasonal timescales.

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Jin-Yi Yu
and
Seon Tae Kim

Abstract

This study examines preindustrial simulations from Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 3 (CMIP3), models to show that a tendency exists for El Niño sea surface temperature anomalies to be located farther eastward than La Niña anomalies during strong El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events but farther westward than La Niña anomalies during weak ENSO events. Such reversed spatial asymmetries are shown to force a slow change in the tropical Pacific Ocean mean state that in return modulates ENSO amplitude. CMIP3 models that produce strong reversed asymmetries experience cyclic modulations of ENSO intensity, in which strong and weak events occur during opposite phases of a decadal variability mode associated with the residual effects of the reversed asymmetries. It is concluded that the reversed spatial asymmetries enable an ENSO–tropical Pacific mean state interaction mechanism that gives rise to a decadal modulation of ENSO intensity and that at least three CMIP3 models realistically simulate this interaction mechanism.

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Jin-Yi Yu
and
Seon Tae Kim

Abstract

This study examines the linkages between leading patterns of interannual sea level pressure (SLP) variability over the extratropical Pacific (20°–60°N) and the eastern Pacific (EP) and central Pacific (CP) types of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The first empirical orthogonal function (EOF) mode of the extratropical SLP anomalies represents variations of the Aleutian low, and the second EOF mode represents the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) and is characterized by a meridional SLP anomaly dipole with a nodal point near 50°N. It is shown that a fraction of the first SLP mode can be excited by both the EP and CP types of ENSO. The SLP response to the EP type is stronger and more immediate. The tropical–extratropical teleconnection appears to act more slowly for the CP ENSO. During the decay phase of EP events, the associated extratropical SLP anomalies shift from the first SLP mode to the second SLP mode. As the second SLP mode grows, subtropical SST anomalies are induced beneath via surface heat flux anomalies. The SST anomalies persist after the peak in strength of the second SLP mode, likely because of the seasonal footprinting mechanism, and lead to the development of the CP type of ENSO. This study shows that the CP ENSO is an extratropically excited mode of tropical Pacific variability and also suggests that the decay of an EP type of ENSO can lead to the onset of a CP type of ENSO with the aid of the NPO. This extratropical linking mechanism appears to be at work during the 1972, 1982, and 1997 strong El Niño events, which were all EP events and were all followed by strong CP La Niña events after the NPO was excited in the extratropics. This study concludes that extratropical SLP variations play an important role in exciting the CP type of ENSO and in linking the transitions from the EP to CP events.

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Lei Wang
and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

The tropospheric biennial oscillation (TBO) is conventionally considered to involve transitions between the Indian and Australian summer monsoons and the interactions between these two monsoons and the underlying Indo-Pacific Oceans. Here it is shown that, since the early 1990s, the TBO has evolved to mainly involve the transitions between the western North Pacific (WNP) and Australian monsoons. In this framework, the WNP monsoon replaces the Indian monsoon as the active Northern Hemisphere TBO monsoon center during recent decades. This change is found to be caused by stronger Pacific–Atlantic coupling and an increased influence of the tropical Atlantic Ocean on the Indian and WNP monsoons. The increased Atlantic Ocean influence damps the Pacific Ocean influence on the Indian summer monsoon (leading to a decrease in its variability) but amplifies the Pacific Ocean influence on the WNP summer monsoon (leading to an increase in its variability). These results suggest that the Pacific–Atlantic interactions have become more important to the TBO dynamics during recent decades.

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Hsun-Ying Kao
and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

Surface observations and subsurface ocean assimilation datasets are examined to contrast two distinct types of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the tropical Pacific: an eastern-Pacific (EP) type and a central-Pacific (CP) type. An analysis method combining empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis and linear regression is used to separate these two types. Correlation and composite analyses based on the principal components of the EOF were performed to examine the structure, evolution, and teleconnection of these two ENSO types. The EP type of ENSO is found to have its SST anomaly center located in the eastern equatorial Pacific attached to the coast of South America. This type of ENSO is associated with basinwide thermocline and surface wind variations and shows a strong teleconnection with the tropical Indian Ocean. In contrast, the CP type of ENSO has most of its surface wind, SST, and subsurface anomalies confined in the central Pacific and tends to onset, develop, and decay in situ. This type of ENSO appears less related to the thermocline variations and may be influenced more by atmospheric forcing. It has a stronger teleconnection with the southern Indian Ocean. Phase-reversal signatures can be identified in the anomaly evolutions of the EP-ENSO but not for the CP-ENSO. This implies that the CP-ENSO may occur more as events or epochs than as a cycle. The EP-ENSO has experienced a stronger interdecadal change with the dominant period of its SST anomalies shifted from 2 to 4 yr near 1976/77, while the dominant period for the CP-ENSO stayed near the 2-yr band. The different onset times of these two types of ENSO imply that the difference between the EP and CP types of ENSO could be caused by the timing of the mechanisms that trigger the ENSO events.

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Fengpeng Sun
and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

This study examines the slow modulation of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) intensity and its underlying mechanism. A 10–15-yr ENSO intensity modulation cycle is identified from historical and paleoclimate data by calculating the envelope function of boreal winter Niño-3.4 and Niño-3 sea surface temperature (SST) indices. Composite analyses reveal interesting spatial asymmetries between El Niño and La Niña events within the modulation cycle. In the enhanced intensity periods of the cycle, El Niño is located in the eastern tropical Pacific and La Niña in the central tropical Pacific. The asymmetry is reversed in the weakened intensity periods: El Niño centers in the central Pacific and La Niña in the eastern Pacific. El Niño and La Niña centered in the eastern Pacific are accompanied with basin-scale surface wind and thermocline anomalies, whereas those centered in the central Pacific are accompanied with local wind and thermocline anomalies. The El Niño–La Niña asymmetries provide a possible mechanism for ENSO to exert a nonzero residual effect that could lead to slow changes in the Pacific mean state. The mean state changes are characterized by an SST dipole pattern between the eastern and central tropical Pacific, which appears as one leading EOF mode of tropical Pacific decadal variability. The Pacific Walker circulation migrates zonally in association with this decadal mode and also changes the mean surface wind and thermocline patterns along the equator. Although the causality has not been established, it is speculated that the mean state changes in turn favor the alternative spatial patterns of El Niño and La Niña that manifest as the reversed ENSO asymmetries. Using these findings, an ENSO–Pacific climate interaction mechanism is hypothesized to explain the decadal ENSO intensity modulation cycle.

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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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Yu Zhao
and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

During 2013–16 and 2018–22, marine heatwaves (MHWs) occurred in the North Pacific, exhibiting similar extensive coverage, lengthy duration, and significant intensity but with different warming centers. The warming center of the 2013–16 event was in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), while the 2018–22 event had warming centers in both the GOA and the coast of Japan (COJ). Our observational analysis indicates that these two events can be considered as two MHW variants induced by a basinwide MHW conditioning mode in the North Pacific. Both variants were driven thermodynamically by atmospheric wave trains propagating from the tropical Pacific to the North Pacific, within the conditioning mode. The origin and propagating path of these wave trains play a crucial role in determining the specific type of MHW variant. When a stronger wave train originates from the tropical central (western) Pacific, it leads to the GOA (COJ) variant. The cross-basin nature of the wave trains enables the two MHW variants to be accompanied by a tripolar pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic but with opposite phases. The association of these two MHW variants with the Atlantic Ocean also manifests in the decadal variations of their occurrence. Both variants tend to occur more frequently during the positive phase of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation but less so during the negative phase. This study underscores the importance of cross-basin associations between the North Pacific and North Atlantic in shaping the dynamics of North Pacific MHWs.

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