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Xiaohe An, Bo Wu, Tianjun Zhou, and Bo Liu

Abstract

Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), two leading modes of decadal climate variability, are not independent. It was proposed that ENSO-like sea surface temperature (SST) variations play a central role in the Pacific responses to the AMO forcing. However, observational analyses indicate that the AMO-related SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific are far weaker than those in the extratropical North Pacific. Here, we show that SST in the North Pacific is tied to the AMO forcing by convective heating associated with precipitation over the tropical Pacific, instead of by SST there, based on an ensemble of pacemaker experiments with North Atlantic SST restored to the observation in a coupled general circulation model. The AMO modulates precipitation over the equatorial and tropical southwestern Pacific through exciting an anomalous zonal circulation and an interhemispheric asymmetry of net moist static energy input into the atmosphere. The convective heating associated with the precipitation anomalies drive SST variations in the North Pacific through a teleconnection, but remarkably weaken the ENSO-like SST anomalies through a thermocline damping effect. This study has implications that the IPO is a combined mode generated by both AMO forcing and local air-sea interactions, but the IPO-related global-warming acceleration/slowdown is independent of the AMO.

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