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Mathew Koll Roxy, Kapoor Ritika, Pascal Terray, and Sébastien Masson

Abstract

Recent studies have pointed out an increased warming over the Indian Ocean warm pool (the central-eastern Indian Ocean characterized by sea surface temperatures greater than 28.0°C) during the past half-century, although the reasons behind this monotonous warming are still debated. The results here reveal a larger picture—namely, that the western tropical Indian Ocean has been warming for more than a century, at a rate faster than any other region of the tropical oceans, and turns out to be the largest contributor to the overall trend in the global mean sea surface temperature (SST). During 1901–2012, while the Indian Ocean warm pool went through an increase of 0.7°C, the western Indian Ocean experienced anomalous warming of 1.2°C in summer SSTs. The warming of the generally cool western Indian Ocean against the rest of the tropical warm pool region alters the zonal SST gradients, and has the potential to change the Asian monsoon circulation and rainfall, as well as alter the marine food webs in this biologically productive region. The current study using observations and global coupled ocean–atmosphere model simulations gives compelling evidence that, besides direct contribution from greenhouse warming, the long-term warming trend over the western Indian Ocean during summer is highly dependent on the asymmetry in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) teleconnection, and the positive SST skewness associated with ENSO during recent decades.

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Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, Swadhin Behera, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has profound socioeconomic impacts on not only the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean but also various parts of the world. A forecast system is developed based on a relatively high-resolution coupled ocean–atmosphere GCM with only sea surface temperature (SST) information assimilated. Retrospective ensemble forecasts of the IOD index for the past two decades show skillful scores with up to a 3–4-month lead and a winter prediction barrier associated with its intrinsic strong seasonal phase locking. Prediction skills of the SST anomalies in both the eastern and western Indian Ocean are higher than those of the IOD index; this is because of the influences of ENSO, which is highly predictable. The model predicts the extreme positive IOD event in 1994 at a 2–3-season lead. The strong 1997 cold signal in the eastern pole, however, is not well predicted owing to errors in model initial subsurface conditions. The real-time forecast system with more ensembles successfully predicted the weak negative IOD event in the 2005 boreal fall and La Niña condition in the 2005/06 winter. Recent experimental real-time forecasts showed that a positive IOD event would appear in the 2006 summer and fall accompanied by a possible weak El Niño condition in the equatorial Pacific.

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Tomoki Tozuka, Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

Using outputs from the SINTEX-F1 coupled GCM, the thermodynamics of ENSO events and its relation with the seasonal cycle are investigated. Simulated El Niño events are first classified into four groups depending on during which season the Niño-3.4 sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) index (5°S–5°N, 120°–170°W) reaches its peak. Although the heat content of the tropical Pacific decreases for all four types, the tropical Pacific loses about twice as much during an El Niño that peaks during winter compared with one that peaks during summer. The surface heat flux, the southward heat transport at 15°S, and the Indonesian Throughflow heat transport contribute constructively to this remarkable seasonal difference. It is shown that the Indonesian Throughflow supplies anomalous heat from the Indian Ocean, especially during the summer El Niño–like event. Changes in the basic state provided by the seasonal cycle cause differences in the atmospheric response to the SSTA, which in turn lead to the difference between the surface heat flux and the meridional heat transport anomaly.

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Tomoki Tozuka, Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

The decadal variation in the tropical Indian Ocean is investigated using outputs from a 200-yr integration of the Scale Interaction Experiment-Frontier Research Center for Global Change (SINTEX-F1) ocean–atmosphere coupled model. The first EOF mode of the decadal bandpass- (9–35 yr) filtered sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) represents a basinwide mode and is closely related with the Pacific ENSO-like decadal variability. The second EOF mode shows a clear east–west SSTA dipole pattern similar to that of the interannual Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and may be termed the decadal IOD. However, it is demonstrated that the decadal air–sea interaction in the Tropics can be a statistical artifact; it should be interpreted more correctly as decadal modulation of interannual IOD events (i.e., asymmetric or skewed occurrence of positive and negative events). Heat budget analysis has revealed that the occurrence of IOD events is governed by variations in the southward Ekman heat transport across 15°S and variations in the Indonesian Throughflow associated with the ENSO. The variations in the southward Ekman heat transport are related to the Mascarene high activities.

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Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, Swadhin K. Behera, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

Using a fully coupled global ocean–atmosphere general circulation model assimilating only sea surface temperature, the authors found for the first time that several El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events over the past two decades can be predicted at lead times of up to 2 yr. The El Niño condition in the 1997/98 winter can be predicted to some extent up to about a 1½-yr lead but with a weak intensity and large phase delay in the prediction of the onset of this exceptionally strong event. This is attributed to the influence of active and intensive stochastic westerly wind bursts during late 1996 to mid-1997, which are generally unpredictable at seasonal time scales. The cold signals in the 1984/85 and 1999/2000 winters during the peak phases of the past two long-lasting La Niña events are predicted well up to a 2-yr lead. Amazingly, the mild El Niño–like event of 2002/03 is also predicted well up to a 2-yr lead, suggesting a link between the prolonged El Niño and the tropical Pacific decadal variability. Seasonal climate anomalies over vast parts of the globe during specific ENSO years are also realistically predicted up to a 2-yr lead for the first time.

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Swen Jullien, Sébastien Masson, Véra Oerder, Guillaume Samson, François Colas, and Lionel Renault

Abstract

Ocean mesoscale eddies are characterized by rotating-like and meandering currents that imprint the low-level atmosphere. Such a current feedback (CFB) has been shown to induce a sink of energy from the ocean to the atmosphere, and consequently to damp the eddy kinetic energy (EKE), with an apparent regional disparity. In a context of increasing model resolution, the importance of this feedback and its dependence on oceanic and atmospheric model resolution arise. Using a hierarchy of quasi-global coupled models with spatial resolutions varying from 1/4° to 1/12°, the present study shows that the CFB induces a negative wind work at scales ranging from 100 to 1000 km, and a subsequent damping of the mesoscale activity by ~30% on average, independently of the model resolution. Regional variations of this damping range from ~20% in very rich eddying regions to ~40% in poor eddying regions. This regional modulation is associated with a different balance between the sink of energy by eddy wind work and the source of EKE by ocean intrinsic instabilities. The efficiency of the CFB is also shown to be a function of the surface wind magnitude: the larger the wind, the larger the sink of energy. The CFB impact is thus related to both wind and EKE. Its correct representation requires both an ocean model that resolves the mesoscale field adequately and an atmospheric model resolution that matches the ocean effective resolution and allows a realistic representation of wind patterns. These results are crucial for including adequately mesoscale ocean–atmosphere interactions in coupled general circulation models and have strong implications in climate research.

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Swadhin K. Behera, Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, Pascale Delecluse, Silvio Gualdi, Antonio Navarra, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

The variability in the East African short rains is investigated using 41-yr data from the observation and 200-yr data from a coupled general circulation model known as the Scale Interaction Experiment-Frontier Research Center for Global Change, version 1 (SINTEX-F1). The model-simulated data provide a scope to understand the climate variability in the region with a better statistical confidence. Most of the variability in the model short rains is linked to the basinwide large-scale coupled mode, that is, the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) in the tropical Indian Ocean. The analysis of observed data and model results reveals that the influence of the IOD on short rains is overwhelming as compared to that of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO); the correlation between ENSO and short rains is insignificant when the IOD influence is excluded. The IOD–short rains relationship does not change significantly in a model experiment in which the ENSO influence is removed by decoupling the ocean and atmosphere in the tropical Pacific. The partial correlation analysis of the model data demonstrates that a secondary influence comes from a regional mode located near the African coast.

Inconsistent with the observational findings, the model results show a steady evolution of IOD prior to extreme events of short rains. Dynamically consistent evolution of correlations is found in anomalies of the surface winds, currents, sea surface height, and sea surface temperature. Anomalous changes of the Walker circulation provide a necessary driving mechanism for anomalous moisture transport and convection over the coastal East Africa. The model results nicely augment the observational findings and provide us with a physical basis to consider IOD as a predictor for variations of the short rains. This is demonstrated in detail using the statistical analysis method. The prediction skill of the dipole mode SST index in July and August is 92% for the observation, which scales slightly higher for the model index (96%) in August. As observed in data, the model results show decadal weakening in the relationship between IOD and short rains owing to weakening in the IOD activity.

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Suryachandra A. Rao, Sebastien Masson, Jing-Jia Luo, Swadhin K. Behera, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

Using 200 yr of coupled general circulation model (CGCM) results, causes for the termination of Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) events are investigated. The CGCM used here is the Scale Interaction Experiment-Frontier Research Center for Global Change (SINTEX-F1) model, which consists of a version of the European Community–Hamburg (ECHAM4.6) atmospheric model and a version of the Ocean Parallelise (OPA8.2) ocean general circulation model. This model reproduces reasonably well the present-day climatology and interannual signals of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The main characteristics of the intraseasonal disturbances (ISDs)/oscillations are also fairly well captured by this model. However, the eastward propagation of ISDs in the model is relatively fast in the Indian Ocean and stationary in the Pacific compared to observations.

A sudden reversal of equatorial zonal winds is observed, as a result of significant intraseasonal disturbances in the equatorial Indian Ocean in November–December of IOD events, which evolve independently of ENSO. A majority of these IOD events (15 out of 18) are terminated mainly because of the 20–40-day ISD activity in the equatorial zonal winds. Ocean heat budget analysis in the upper 50 m clearly shows that the initial warming after the peak of the IOD phenomenon is triggered by increased solar radiation owing to clear-sky conditions in the eastern Indian Ocean. Subsequently, the equatorial jets excited by the ISD deepen the thermocline in the southeastern equatorial Indian Ocean. This deepening of the thermocline inhibits the vertical entrainment of cool waters and therefore the IOD is terminated. IOD events that co-occur with ENSO are terminated owing to anomalous incoming solar radiation as a result of prevailing cloud-free skies. Further warming occurs seasonally through the vertical convergence of heat due to a monsoonal wind reversal along Sumatra–Java. On occasion, strong ISD activities in July–August terminated short-lived IOD events by triggering downwelling intraseasonal equatorial Kelvin waves.

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Takeshi Izumo, Clémentde Boyer Montégut, Jing-Jia Luo, Swadhin K. Behera, Sébastien Masson, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

The Indian summer monsoon rainfall has complex, regionally heterogeneous, interannual variations with huge socioeconomic impacts, but the underlying mechanisms remain uncertain. The upwelling along the Somalia and Oman coasts starts in late spring, peaks during the summer monsoon, and strongly cools the sea surface temperature (SST) in the western Arabian Sea. They restrict the westward extent of the Indian Ocean warm pool, which is the main moisture source for the monsoon rainfall. Thus, variations of the Somalia–Oman upwelling can have significant impacts on the moisture transport toward India. Here the authors use both observations and an advanced coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model to show that a decrease in upwelling strengthens monsoon rainfall along the west coast of India by increasing the SST along the Somalia–Oman coasts, and thus local evaporation and water vapor transport toward the Indian Western Ghats (mountains). Further observational analysis reveals that such decreases in upwelling are caused by anomalously weak southwesterly winds in late spring over the Arabian Sea that are due to warm SST/increased precipitation anomalies over the Seychelles–Chagos thermocline ridge of the southwestern Indian Ocean (and vice versa for years with strong upwelling/weak west Indian summer monsoon rainfall). The latter SST/precipitation anomalies are often related to El Niño conditions and the strength of the Indonesian–Australian monsoon during the previous winter. This sheds new light on the ability to forecast the poorly predicted Indian monsoon rainfall on a regional scale, helped by a proper ocean observing/forecasting system in the western tropical Indian Ocean.

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Jing-Jia Luo, Sebastien Masson, Erich Roeckner, Gurvan Madec, and Toshio Yamagata

Abstract

The cold tongue in the tropical Pacific extends too far west in most current ocean–atmosphere coupled GCMs (CGCMs). This bias also exists in the relatively high-resolution SINTEX-F CGCM despite its remarkable performance of simulating ENSO variations. In terms of the importance of air–sea interactions to the climatology formation in the tropical Pacific, several sensitivity experiments with improved coupling physics have been performed in order to reduce the cold-tongue bias in CGCMs.

By allowing for momentum transfer of the ocean surface current to the atmosphere [full coupled simulation (FCPL)] or merely reducing the wind stress by taking the surface current into account in the bulk formula [semicoupled simulation (semi-CPL)], the warm-pool/cold-tongue structure in the equatorial Pacific is simulated better than that of the control simulation (CTL) in which the movement of the ocean surface is ignored for wind stress calculation. The reduced surface zonal current and vertical entrainment owing to the reduced easterly wind stress tend to produce a warmer sea surface temperature (SST) in the western equatorial Pacific. Consequently, the dry bias there is much reduced. The warming tendency of the SST in the eastern Pacific, however, is largely suppressed by isopycnal diffusion and meridional advection of colder SST from south of the equator due to enhanced coastal upwelling near Peru. The ENSO signal in the western Pacific and its global teleconnection in the North Pacific are simulated more realistically.

The approach as adopted in the FCPL run is able to generate a correct zonal SST slope and efficiently reduce the cold-tongue bias in the equatorial Pacific. The surface easterly wind itself in the FCPL run is weakened, reducing the easterly wind stress further. This is related with a weakened zonal Walker cell in the atmospheric boundary layer over the eastern Pacific and a new global angular momentum balance of the atmosphere associated with reduced westerly wind stress over the southern oceans.

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