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Jin-Yi Yu
,
Houk Paek
,
Eric S. Saltzman
, and
Tong Lee

Abstract

This study uncovers an early 1990s change in the relationships between El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and two leading modes of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) atmospheric variability: the southern annular mode (SAM) and the Pacific–South American (PSA) pattern. During austral spring, while the PSA maintained a strong correlation with ENSO throughout the period 1948–2014, the SAM–ENSO correlation changed from being weak before the early 1990s to being strong afterward. Through the ENSO connection, PSA and SAM became more in-phase correlated after the early 1990s. The early 1990s is also the time when ENSO changed from being dominated by the eastern Pacific (EP) type to being dominated by the central Pacific (CP) type. Analyses show that, while the EP ENSO can excite only the PSA, the CP ENSO can excite both the SAM and PSA through tropospheric and stratospheric pathway mechanisms. The more in-phase relationship between SAM and PSA impacted the post-1990s Antarctic climate in at least two aspects: 1) a stronger Antarctic sea ice dipole structure around the Amundsen–Bellingshausen Seas due to intensified geopotential height anomalies over the region and 2) a shift in the phase relationships of surface air temperature anomalies among East Antarctica, West Antarctica, and the Antarctic Peninsula. These findings imply that ENSO–Antarctic climate relations depend on the dominant ENSO type and that ENSO forcing has become more important to the Antarctic sea ice and surface air temperature variability in the past two decades and will in the coming decades if the dominance of CP ENSO persists.

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