The Interannual Variability of the Ocean-Atmosphere System

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins 80523
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Abstract

Evidence is derived from observational data that the trade wind circulations in both hemispheres over the Pacific are related to the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Pacific. The equatorward component of the surface trade winds leads the North Pacific SST anomalies by approximately 20 months, equivalent to the half-rotation time of the Pacific gyre.

Long-term trends in the Pacific trade wind regime appear to have an influence on hemispheric and global mean temperatures. The trade wind anomalies also seem to be tied to meridional atmospheric pressure- and temperature-gradient anomalies which, in turn, appear to respond to anomalies in the meridional SST gradients. Thus a closed feedback loop is demonstrated, in which SST anomalies in the North Pacific generate trade wind anomalies which promote the development of North Pacific SST anomalies of opposite sign. The trade wind surges also are related to El Niño through a feedback involving the hydrological cycle and upwelling of cold water forced by Ekman pumping.

Abstract

Evidence is derived from observational data that the trade wind circulations in both hemispheres over the Pacific are related to the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Pacific. The equatorward component of the surface trade winds leads the North Pacific SST anomalies by approximately 20 months, equivalent to the half-rotation time of the Pacific gyre.

Long-term trends in the Pacific trade wind regime appear to have an influence on hemispheric and global mean temperatures. The trade wind anomalies also seem to be tied to meridional atmospheric pressure- and temperature-gradient anomalies which, in turn, appear to respond to anomalies in the meridional SST gradients. Thus a closed feedback loop is demonstrated, in which SST anomalies in the North Pacific generate trade wind anomalies which promote the development of North Pacific SST anomalies of opposite sign. The trade wind surges also are related to El Niño through a feedback involving the hydrological cycle and upwelling of cold water forced by Ekman pumping.

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