All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 1931 960 199
PDF Downloads 1861 836 110

A Model El Ni&ntilde–Southern Oscillation

Stephen E. ZebiakLamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964

Search for other papers by Stephen E. Zebiak in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
and
Mark A. CaneLamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964

Search for other papers by Mark A. Cane in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Full access

Abstract

A coupled atmosphere-ocean model is developed and used to study the ENSO (El Ni&ntilde/Southern Oscillation) phenomenon. With no anomalous external forcing, the coupled model reproduces certain key features of the observed phenomenon. including the recurrence of warm events at irregular intervals with a preference for three to four years. It is shown that the mean sea surface temperature, wind and ocean current fields determine the characteristic spatial structure of ENSO anomalies. The tendency for phase-locking of anomalies is explained in terms of a variation in coupling strength associated with the annual cycle in the mean fields. Sensitivity studies reveal that both the amplitude and the time of scale of the oscillation are sensitive to several parameters that affect the strength of the atmosphere–ocean coupling. Stronger coupling implies larger oscillations with a longer time scale. A critical element of the model oscilliation is the variability in the equatorial heat content of the upper ocean. Equatorial heat content increases prior to warm events and decreases sharply during the events. A theory for this variability and the associated transitions between the non-El Niño and El Niño states is presented. Implications of the model results for the prediction of El Niño events are discussed.

Abstract

A coupled atmosphere-ocean model is developed and used to study the ENSO (El Ni&ntilde/Southern Oscillation) phenomenon. With no anomalous external forcing, the coupled model reproduces certain key features of the observed phenomenon. including the recurrence of warm events at irregular intervals with a preference for three to four years. It is shown that the mean sea surface temperature, wind and ocean current fields determine the characteristic spatial structure of ENSO anomalies. The tendency for phase-locking of anomalies is explained in terms of a variation in coupling strength associated with the annual cycle in the mean fields. Sensitivity studies reveal that both the amplitude and the time of scale of the oscillation are sensitive to several parameters that affect the strength of the atmosphere–ocean coupling. Stronger coupling implies larger oscillations with a longer time scale. A critical element of the model oscilliation is the variability in the equatorial heat content of the upper ocean. Equatorial heat content increases prior to warm events and decreases sharply during the events. A theory for this variability and the associated transitions between the non-El Niño and El Niño states is presented. Implications of the model results for the prediction of El Niño events are discussed.

Save