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

Abstract

Predictabilities of tropical climate signals are investigated using a relatively high resolution Scale Interaction Experiment–Frontier Research Center for Global Change (FRCGC) coupled GCM (SINTEX-F). Five ensemble forecast members are generated by perturbing the model’s coupling physics, which accounts for the uncertainties of both initial conditions and model physics. Because of the model’s good performance in simulating the climatology and ENSO in the tropical Pacific, a simple coupled SST-nudging scheme generates realistic thermocline and surface wind variations in the equatorial Pacific. Several westerly and easterly wind bursts in the western Pacific are also captured.

Hindcast results for the period 1982–2001 show a high predictability of ENSO. All past El Niño and La Niña events, including the strongest 1997/98 warm episode, are successfully predicted with the anomaly correlation coefficient (ACC) skill scores above 0.7 at the 12-month lead time. The predicted signals of some particular events, however, become weak with a delay in the phase at mid and long lead times. This is found to be related to the intraseasonal wind bursts that are unpredicted beyond a few months of lead time. The model forecasts also show a “spring prediction barrier” similar to that in observations. Spatial SST anomalies, teleconnection, and global drought/flood during three different phases of ENSO are successfully predicted at 9–12-month lead times.

In the tropical North Atlantic and southwestern Indian Ocean, where ENSO has predominant influences, the model shows skillful predictions at the 7–12-month lead times. The distinct signal of the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) event in 1994 is predicted at the 6-month lead time. SST anomalies near the western coast of Australia are also predicted beyond the 12-month lead time because of pronounced decadal signals there.

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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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Yushi Morioka, Sébastien Masson, Pascal Terray, Chloé Prodhomme, Swadhin K. Behera, and Yukio Masumoto

Abstract

Interannual variations of sea surface temperature (SST) in the midlatitudes of the Southern Hemisphere play an important role in the rainfall variability over the surrounding countries by modulating synoptic-scale atmospheric disturbances. These are frequently associated with a northeast–southwest-oriented dipole of positive and negative SST anomalies in each oceanic basin, referred to as a subtropical dipole. This study investigates the role of tropical SST variability on the generation of subtropical dipoles by conducting SST-nudging experiments using a coupled general circulation model. In the experiments where the simulated SST in each tropical basin is nudged to the climatology of the observed SST, the subtropical dipoles tend to occur as frequently as the case in which the simulated SST is allowed to freely interact with the atmosphere. It is found that without the tropical SST variability, the zonally elongated atmospheric mode in the mid- to high latitudes, called the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO), becomes dominant and the stationary Rossby waves related to the AAO induce the sea level pressure (SLP) anomalies in the midlatitudes, which, in turn, generate the subtropical dipoles. These results suggest that the tropical SST variability may not be necessary for generating the subtropical dipoles, and hence provide a useful insight into the important role of the AAO in the midlatitude climate variability.

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Lionel Renault, M. Jeroen Molemaker, Jonathan Gula, Sebastien Masson, and James C. McWilliams

Abstract

The Gulf Stream (GS) is known to have a strong influence on climate, for example, by transporting heat from the tropics to higher latitudes. Although the GS transport intensity presents a clear interannual variability, satellite observations reveal its mean path is stable. Numerical models can simulate some characteristics of the mean GS path, but persistent biases keep the GS separation and postseparation unstable and therefore unrealistic. This study investigates how the integration of ocean surface currents into the ocean–atmosphere coupling interface of numerical models impacts the GS. The authors show for the first time that the current feedback, through its eddy killing effect, stabilizes the GS separation and postseparation, resolving long-lasting biases in modeled GS path, at least for the Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS). This key process should therefore be taken into account in oceanic numerical models. Using a set of oceanic and atmospheric coupled and uncoupled simulations, this study shows that the current feedback, by modulating the energy transfer from the atmosphere to the ocean, has two main effects on the ocean. On one hand, by reducing the mean surface stress and thus weakening the mean geostrophic wind work by 30%, the current feedback slows down the whole North Atlantic oceanic gyre, making the GS narrower and its transport weaker. Yet, on the other hand, the current feedback acts as an oceanic eddy killer, reducing the surface eddy kinetic energy by 27%. By inducing a surface stress curl opposite to the current vorticity, it deflects energy from the geostrophic current into the atmosphere and dampens eddies.

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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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