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Zhengyu Liu
and
Boyin Huang

Abstract

Based on results from analytic and general circulation models, the authors propose a theory for the coupled warm pool, cold tongue, and Walker circulation system. The intensity of the coupled system is determined by the coupling strength, the local equilibrium time, and latitudinal differential heating. Most importantly, this intensity is strongly regulated in the coupled system, with a saturation level that can be reached at a modest coupling strength. The saturation west–east sea surface temperature difference (and the associated Walker circulation) corresponds to about one-quarter of the latitudinal differential equilibrium temperature. This regulation is caused primarily by the decoupling of the SST gradient from a strong ocean current. The author’s estimate suggests that the present Pacific is near the saturation state. Furthermore, the much weaker Walker circulation system in the Atlantic Ocean is interpreted as being the result of the influence of the adjacent land, which is able to extend into the entire Atlantic to change the zonal distribution of the trade wind. The theory is also applied to understand the tropical climatology in coupled GCM simulations, in the Last Glacial Maximum climate, and in the global warming climate, as well as in the regulation of the tropical sea surface temperature.

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Boyin Huang
and
Zhengyu Liu

Abstract

The linear temperature trend of the last 40 yr (1955–94) in the upper Pacific Ocean above 400 m is studied using an objectively analyzed dataset and simulations of an ocean general circulation model. Both the data and simulations suggest a warming trend in the western tropical Pacific (10°S–10°N) near the surface and in the eastern tropical Pacific above 400 m but a cooling trend in the thermocline of the western tropical Pacific. In the midlatitude North Pacific (30°–50°N), the temperature trend is positive east of 150°W but negative to the west.

Simulated heat budget indicates that the temperature trend in the tropical Pacific may result from oceanic advection. In the central and western Pacific, the surface warming is associated with the reduction of cold advection from the off-equatorial divergent flow and the South Equatorial Current, while the cooling in the thermocline is related to the reduction of equatorward warm advection. In the eastern Pacific, the warming is associated with the reduction of upwelling. The reduction of these ocean currents, in turn, may result largely from the weakening of the trade winds.

In the midlatitude North Pacific, the ocean temperature trends similarly may result from the oceanic advection associated with the reduction of the westerlies. The effect of net surface heat flux into the ocean is a damping factor to the sea surface temperature. These studies highlight the importance of oceanic advection in producing long-term temperature trends.

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Zhengyu Liu
and
Boyin Huang

Abstract

It is suggested that the tritium maximum in the central Pacific is caused by two water pathways across the North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC), one from the central Pacific and the other from the Mindanao Current. It is argued that an interior pathway exists, by which tritium-rich thermocline waters from the subtropical North Pacific cross the NECC in the central Pacific. The transport in this pathway, however, is small compared with that from the Mindanao Current.

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Boyin Huang
,
Vikram M. Mehta
, and
Niklas Schneider

Abstract

In the study of decadal variations of the Pacific Ocean circulations and temperature, the role of anomalous net atmospheric freshwater [evaporation minus precipitation minus river runoff (EmP)] has received scant attention even though ocean salinity anomalies are long lived and can be expected to have more variance at low frequencies than at high frequencies. To explore the magnitude of salinity and temperature anomalies and their generation processes, the authors studied the response of the Pacific Ocean to idealized EmP anomalies in the Tropics and subtropics using an ocean general circulation model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Simulations showed that salinity anomalies generated by the anomalous EmP were spread throughout the Pacific basin by mean flow advection. This redistribution of salinity anomalies caused adjustments of basin-scale ocean currents, which further resulted in basin-scale temperature anomalies due to changes in heat advection caused by anomalous currents. In this study, the response of the Pacific Ocean to magnitudes and locations of anomalous EmP was linear. When forced with a positive EmP anomaly in the subtropical North (South) Pacific, a cooling occurred in the western North (South) Pacific, which extended to the tropical and South (North) Pacific, and a warming occurred in the eastern North (South) Pacific. When forced with a negative EmP anomaly in the tropical Pacific, a warming occurred in the tropical Pacific and western North and South Pacific and a cooling occurred in the eastern North Pacific near 30°N and the South Pacific near 30°S. The temperature changes (0.2°C) in the tropical Pacific were associated with changes in the South Equatorial Current. The temperature changes (0.8°C) in the subtropical North and South Pacific were associated with changes in the subtropical gyres. The temperature anomalies propagated from the tropical Pacific to the subtropical North and South Pacific via equatorial divergent Ekman flows and poleward western boundary currents, and they propagated from the subtropical North and South Pacific to the western tropical Pacific via equatorward-propagating coastal Kelvin waves and to the eastern tropical Pacific via eastward-propagating equatorial Kelvin waves. The time scale of temperature response was typically much longer than that of salinity response because of slow adjustment times of ocean circulations. These results imply that the slow response of ocean temperature due to anomalous EmP in the Tropics and subtropics may play an important role in the Pacific decadal variability.

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Boyin Huang
,
Chunying Liu
,
Guoyu Ren
,
Huai-Min Zhang
, and
Lei Zhang

Abstract

The relative roles of buoy and Argo observations in two sea surface temperature (SST) analyses are studied in the global ocean and tropical Pacific Ocean over 2000–16 using monthly Extended Reconstructed SST version 5 (ERSSTv5) and Daily Optimum Interpolation SST version 2 (DOISST). Experiments show an overall higher impact by buoys than Argo floats over the global oceans and an increasing impact by Argo floats. The impact by Argo floats is generally larger in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern Hemisphere. The impact on trends and anomalies of globally averaged SST by either one is small when the other is used. The warming trend over 2000–16 remains significant by including either buoys or Argo floats or both. In the tropical Pacific, the impact by buoys was large over 2000–05 when the number of Argo floats was low, and became smaller over 2010–16 when the number and area coverage of Argo floats increased. The magnitude of El Niño and La Niña events decreases when the observations from buoys, Argo floats, or both are excluded. The impact by the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) and Triangle Trans-Ocean Buoy Network (TRITON) is small in normal years and during El Niño events. The impact by TAO/TRITON buoys on La Niña events is small when Argo floats are included in the analysis systems, and large when Argo floats are not included. The reason for the different impact on El Niño and La Niña events is that the drifting buoys are more dispersed from the equatorial Pacific region by stronger trade winds during La Niña events.

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Boyin Huang
,
Yan Xue
,
Dongxiao Zhang
,
Arun Kumar
, and
Michael J. McPhaden

Abstract

The mixed layer heat budget in the tropical Pacific is diagnosed using pentad (5 day) averaged outputs from the Global Ocean Data Assimilation System (GODAS), which is operational at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The GODAS is currently used by the NCEP Climate Prediction Center (CPC) to monitor and to understand El Niño and La Niña in near real time. The purpose of this study is to assess the feasibility of using an operational ocean data assimilation system to understand SST variability.

The climatological mean and seasonal cycle of mixed layer heat budgets derived from GODAS agree reasonably well with previous observational and model-based estimates. However, significant differences and biases were noticed. Large biases were found in GODAS zonal and meridional currents, which contributed to biases in the annual cycle of zonal and meridional advective heat fluxes. The warming due to tropical instability waves in boreal fall is severely underestimated owing to use of a 4-week data assimilation window. On interannual time scales, the GODAS heat budget closure is good for weak-to-moderate El Niños. A composite for weak-to-moderate El Niños suggests that zonal and meridional temperature advection and vertical entrainment/diffusion all contributed to the onset of the event and that zonal advection played the dominant role during decay of the event and the transition to La Niña. The net surface heat flux acts as a damping during the development stage, but plays a critical role in the decay of El Niño and the transition to the following La Niña.

The GODAS heat budget closure is generally poor for strong La Niñas. Despite the biases, the GODAS heat budget analysis tool is useful in monitoring and understanding the physical processes controlling SST variability associated with ENSO. Therefore, it has been implemented operationally at CPC in support of NOAA’s ENSO forecasting.

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Boyin Huang
,
Xungang Yin
,
Matthew J. Menne
,
Russell Vose
, and
Huai-Min Zhang

Abstract

NOAA global surface temperature (NOAAGlobalTemp) is NOAA’s operational global surface temperature product, which has been widely used in Earth’s climate assessment and monitoring. To improve the spatial interpolation of monthly land surface air temperatures (LSATs) in NOAAGlobalTemp from 1850 to 2020, a three-layer artificial neural network (ANN) system was designed. The ANN system was trained by repeatedly randomly selecting 90% of the LSATs from ERA5 (1950–2019) and validating with the remaining 10%. Validations show clear improvements of ANN over the original empirical orthogonal teleconnection (EOT) method: the global spatial correlation coefficient (SCC) increases from 65% to 80%, and the global root-mean-square difference (RMSD) decreases from 0.99° to 0.57°C during 1850–2020. The improvements of SCCs and RMSDs are larger in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern Hemisphere and are larger before the 1950s and where observations are sparse. The ANN system was finally fed in observed LSATs, and its output over the global land surface was compared with those from the EOT method. Comparisons demonstrate similar improvements by ANN over the EOT method: The global SCC increased from 78% to 89%, the global RMSD decreased from 0.93° to 0.68°C, and the LSAT variability quantified by the monthly standard deviation (STD) increases from 1.16° to 1.41°C during 1850–2020. While the SCC, RMSD, and STD at the monthly time scale have been improved, long-term trends remain largely unchanged because the low-frequency component of LSAT in ANN is identical to that in the EOT approach.

Significance Statement

The spatial interpolation method of an artificial neural network has greatly improved the accuracy of land surface air temperature reconstruction, which reduces root-mean-square error and increases spatial coherence and variabilities over the global land surface from 1850 to 2020.

Free access
Viva Banzon
,
Thomas M. Smith
,
Michael Steele
,
Boyin Huang
, and
Huai-Min Zhang

Abstract

Arctic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are estimated mostly from satellite sea ice concentration (SIC) estimates. In regions with sea ice the SST is the temperature of open water or of the water under the ice. A number of different proxy SST estimates based on SIC have been developed. In recent years more Arctic quality-control buoy SSTs have become available, allowing better validation of different estimates and the development of improved proxy estimates. Here proxy SSTs from different approaches are evaluated and an improved proxy SST method is shown. The improved proxy SSTs were tested in an SST analysis, and showed reduced bias and random errors compared to the Arctic buoy SSTs. Almost all reduction in errors is in the warm melt season. In the cold season the SIC is typically high and all estimates tend to have low errors. The improved method will be incorporated into an operational SST analysis.

Open access
Boyin Huang
,
Michelle L’Heureux
,
Zeng-Zhen Hu
,
Xungang Yin
, and
Huai-Min Zhang

Abstract

Previous research has shown that the 1877/78 El Niño resulted in great famine events around the world. However, the strength and statistical significance of this El Niño event have not been fully addressed, largely due to the lack of data. We take a closer look at the data using an ensemble analysis of the Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature version 5 (ERSSTv5). The ERSSTv5 standard run indicates a strong El Niño event with a peak monthly value of the Niño-3 index of 3.5°C during 1877/78, stronger than those during 1982/83, 1997/98, and 2015/16. However, an analysis of the ERSSTv5 ensemble runs indicates that the strength and significance (uncertainty estimates) depend on the construction of the ensembles. A 1000-member ensemble analysis shows that the ensemble mean Niño-3 index has a much weaker peak of 1.8°C, and its uncertainty is much larger during 1877/78 (2.8°C) than during 1982/83 (0.3°C), 1997/98 (0.2°C), and 2015/16 (0.1°C). Further, the large uncertainty during 1877/78 is associated with selections of a short (1 month) period of raw-data filter and a large (20%) acceptance criterion of empirical orthogonal teleconnection modes in the ERSSTv5 reconstruction. By adjusting these two parameters, the uncertainty during 1877/78 decreases to 0.5°C, while the peak monthly value of the Niño-3 index in the ensemble mean increases to 2.8°C, suggesting a strong and statistically significant 1877/78 El Niño event. The adjustment of those two parameters is validated by masking the modern observations of 1981–2017 to 1861–97. Based on the estimated uncertainties, the differences among the strength of these four major El Niño events are not statistically significant.

Open access
Boyin Huang
,
Chunying Liu
,
Eric Freeman
,
Garrett Graham
,
Tom Smith
, and
Huai-Min Zhang

Abstract

The NOAA Daily Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature dataset (DOISST) has recently been updated to v2.1 (January 2016–present). Its accuracy may impact the climate assessment, monitoring and prediction, and environment-related applications. Its performance, together with those of seven other well-known sea surface temperature (SST) products, is assessed by comparison with buoy and Argo observations in the global oceans on daily 0.25° × 0.25° resolution from January 2016 to June 2020. These seven SST products are NASA MUR25, GHRSST GMPE, BoM GAMSSA, UKMO OSTIA, NOAA GPB, ESA CCI, and CMC. Our assessments indicate that biases and root-mean-square difference (RMSDs) in reference to all buoys and all Argo floats are low in DOISST. The bias in reference to the independent 10% of buoy SSTs remains low in DOISST, but the RMSD is slightly higher in DOISST than in OSTIA and CMC. The biases in reference to the independent 10% of Argo observations are low in CMC, DOISST, and GMPE; also, RMSDs are low in GMPE and CMC. The biases are similar in GAMSSA, OSTIA, GPB, and CCI whether they are compared against all buoys, all Argo, or the 10% of buoy or 10% of Argo observations, while the RMSDs against Argo observations are slightly smaller than those against buoy observations. These features indicate a good performance of DOISST v2.1 among the eight products, which may benefit from ingesting the Argo observations by expanding global and regional spatial coverage of in situ observations for effective bias correction of satellite data.

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