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Characteristic Variations of Sea Surface Temperature with Multiple Time Scales in the North Pacific

Youichi TanimotoDepartment of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan

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Kimio HanawaDepartment of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan

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Yoshiaki TobaDepartment of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan

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Naoto IwasakaTokyo University of Mercantile Marine, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan

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Abstract

Temporal evolution and spectral structure of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Pacific over the last 37 years are investigated on the three characteristic time scales: shorter than 24 months (HF), 24–60 months (ES), and longer than 60 months (DC). The leading empirical-orthogonal function (EOF) for the DC time scale is characterized by a zonally elongated monopole centered at around 40°N, 180°. The leading EOF for the HF time scale is somewhat similar to that for the DC time scale, although there are two centers of action with the same polarity at the mid and western Pacific. The leading EOF for the ES time scale, however, exhibits a different pattern whose center of action at the mid Pacific is located farther southeastward.

In the time evolution of the SST anomalies associated with the leading EOF of the DC time scale, several anomaly periods can be identified that last five years or longer. The transition from a persistent period to another with the opposite polarity is generally very brief, except for the one that lasts throughout the late 1960s.

The EOF analysis was repeated separately on these persistent anomaly periods and the long transition period. The spatial structure of the leading EOF of the SST variability with the ES time scale is found to be sensitive to the polarity of the decadal anomaly. These results are suggestive of the possible influence of the decadal SST variability upon the spatial structure of the variability with shorter time scales.

Abstract

Temporal evolution and spectral structure of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Pacific over the last 37 years are investigated on the three characteristic time scales: shorter than 24 months (HF), 24–60 months (ES), and longer than 60 months (DC). The leading empirical-orthogonal function (EOF) for the DC time scale is characterized by a zonally elongated monopole centered at around 40°N, 180°. The leading EOF for the HF time scale is somewhat similar to that for the DC time scale, although there are two centers of action with the same polarity at the mid and western Pacific. The leading EOF for the ES time scale, however, exhibits a different pattern whose center of action at the mid Pacific is located farther southeastward.

In the time evolution of the SST anomalies associated with the leading EOF of the DC time scale, several anomaly periods can be identified that last five years or longer. The transition from a persistent period to another with the opposite polarity is generally very brief, except for the one that lasts throughout the late 1960s.

The EOF analysis was repeated separately on these persistent anomaly periods and the long transition period. The spatial structure of the leading EOF of the SST variability with the ES time scale is found to be sensitive to the polarity of the decadal anomaly. These results are suggestive of the possible influence of the decadal SST variability upon the spatial structure of the variability with shorter time scales.

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