Observed Tropospheric Biennial Variability and Its Relationship to the Southern Oscillation

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  • 1 Climate Analysis Center. NMC/NWS/NOAA, Washington, D.C.
  • | 2 Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
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Abstract

Tropospheric biennial variability in several components of the Southern Oscillation (SO) is defined and described through analysis of observational data from the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS), as well as through investigation of several SO index time series. The analysis suggests that the temporal behavior of the SO can be described in terms of three components: 1) a pervasive biennial pulse, which appears to be strong in both the Indian Ocean and the west Pacific surface zonal winds as well as in several SO indices, 2) the annual cycle, which tends to set the phase of biennial variability for the major SO excursions, and 3) a low-frequency, or residual, variability, which may be associated with temporal scales between large SO episodes. This study also supports recent papers in suggesting that complete models of the SO must include the Indian Ocean basin.

Abstract

Tropospheric biennial variability in several components of the Southern Oscillation (SO) is defined and described through analysis of observational data from the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS), as well as through investigation of several SO index time series. The analysis suggests that the temporal behavior of the SO can be described in terms of three components: 1) a pervasive biennial pulse, which appears to be strong in both the Indian Ocean and the west Pacific surface zonal winds as well as in several SO indices, 2) the annual cycle, which tends to set the phase of biennial variability for the major SO excursions, and 3) a low-frequency, or residual, variability, which may be associated with temporal scales between large SO episodes. This study also supports recent papers in suggesting that complete models of the SO must include the Indian Ocean basin.

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