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Mojib Latif

Abstract

The multidecadal climate variability in the North Pacific region is investigated by using a 2000-yr-long integration with a coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation model. It is shown that the multidecadal variability evolves largely independent of the variations in the tropical Pacific, so that this kind of multidecadal variability may be regarded as internal to the North Pacific. The coupled model results suggest that the multidecadal variability can be explained by the dynamical ocean response to stochastic wind stress forcing. Superimposed on the red background variability, a multidecadal mode with a period of about 40 yr is simulated by the coupled model. This mode can be understood through the concept of spatial resonance between the ocean and the atmosphere.

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Mojib Latif
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Mojib Latif

Abstract

A primitive equation model of the equatorial Pacific Ocean was forced by realistic wind stress distributions over decades. Results were presented for a set of two experiments. In the first experiment the model was forced by an objectively analyzed wind field, while for the second experiment a subjectively analyzed wind field was used. The results indicate a strong sensitivity of the model to the choice of the wind fields. Especially, model results in the eastern Pacific show big differences between the two model runs.

Taking the results of the second model run the performance of the model with respect to interannual variability is investigated. Sea level, temperature and zonal currents show pronounced interannual variations within the equatorial belt from 10°N to 10°S.

Special attention is given to the simulation of the 1982/83 El Niño event. The model reproduces most of the basic features, which were observed during this El Niño event. In particular the deceleration of the equatorial undercurrent, the evolution of eastward surface currents and the zonal redistribution of heat associated with an eastward propagation of warm water are simulated by the model.

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Dietmar Dommenget
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Mojib Latif
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Katja Lohmann
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Mojib Latif

Abstract

This study investigates the influence of El Niño on the upper-ocean circulation in the tropical Atlantic Ocean (via changes in the Atlantic trade winds) by analyzing observed sea surface temperature (SST) together with an ocean general circulation model integration forced by the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis. During periods with anomalously warm (cold) eastern equatorial Pacific SST, the southern Atlantic tropical cell is strengthened (weakened). The difference of the cell strength between El Niño and La Niña years is about 20% of the mean cell strength. However, the variability of the cell is not dominated by the remote forcing from the eastern equatorial Pacific but seems to be caused by intrinsic tropical Atlantic variability. A strengthening (weakening) for periods with anomalously warm (cold) eastern equatorial Pacific SST is also found for the zonal surface and subsurface currents. TOPEX/Poseidon altimetry data are used to validate the results based on the OGCM integration.

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Katja Lohmann
and
Mojib Latif

Abstract

The decadal-scale variability in the tropical Pacific has been analyzed herein by means of observations and numerical model simulations. The two leading modes of the sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the central western Pacific are a decadal mode with a period of about 10 yr and the ENSO mode with a dominant period of about 4 yr. The SST anomaly pattern of the decadal mode is ENSO like. The decadal mode, however, explains most variance in the western equatorial Pacific and off the equator. A simulation with an ocean general circulation model (OGCM) forced by reanalysis data is used to explore the origin of the decadal mode. It is found that the variability of the shallow subtropical–tropical overturning cells is an important factor in driving the decadal mode. This is supported by results from a multicentury integration with a coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation model (CGCM) that realistically simulates tropical Pacific decadal variability. Finally, the sensitivity of the shallow subtropical–tropical overturning cells to greenhouse warming is discussed by analyzing the results of a scenario integration with the same CGCM.

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Dietmar Dommenget
and
Mojib Latif

Abstract

Analyses of annual mean sea surface temperatures (SST) from observations for the period 1903–94 and four different general circulation models (GCMs) were conducted. The two dominant EOFs of all datasets are characterized by two patterns, which are centered in the trade wind zones, at roughly 15°N and 15°S, respectively. The two patterns are uncorrelated at any lag and the time spectra of the corresponding principle components are consistent with red noise. The SST variability is strongly correlated with wind stress anomalies in the trade wind zones. The correlations between the wind stress and the SST, as well as the correlation between the net heat flux and the SST anomalies are consistent with the assumption that the variability of the upper tropical Atlantic Ocean is forced by the atmosphere. Dynamic feedbacks of the tropical Atlantic Ocean are less important. The variability in the trade wind zones shows a weak correlation with the ENSO mode in the tropical Pacific.

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Christian Eckert
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Mojib Latif

Abstract

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is modeled as a stochastically driven dynamical system. This was accomplished by adding to a Hybrid Coupled Model (HCM) of the tropical Pacific ocean–atmosphere system a stochastic wind stress anomaly field that was derived from observations. The model exhibits irregular interannual fluctuations, whose space–time characteristics resemble those of the observed interannual climate variability in this region. To investigate the predictability of the model, the authors performed ensemble integrations with different realizations of the stochastic wind stress forcing. The ensembles were initialized at various phases of the model’s ENSO cycle simulated in a 120-yr integration with a particular noise realization. The numerical experiments indicate that the ENSO predictability is severely limited by the stochastic wind stress forcing. Linear stochastic processes were fitted to the restart ensembles in a reduced state space. A predictability measure based on a comparison of the stationary and the time-dependent probability distributions of the fitted linear models reveals an ENSO predictability limit of considerably less than an average cycle length.

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Dietmar Dommenget
and
Mojib Latif

Abstract

Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analyses (rotated or not) are widely used in climate research. In recent years there have been several studies in which EOF analyses were used to highlight potential physical mechanisms associated with climate variability. For example, several SST modes were identified such as the “Tropical Atlantic Dipole,” the “Tropical Indian Ocean Dipole,” and different SLP modes in the Northern Hemisphere winter. In this note it is emphasized that caution should be used when trying to interpret these statistically derived modes and their significance. Indeed, from a synthetic example it is shown that patterns derived from EOF analyses can be misleading at times and associated with very little climate physics.

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