AbstractThe Southern Oscillation, an irregular interannual fluctuation between warm El Niño and cold La Niña conditions that has its largest amplitude in the tropical Pacific, is attributable to interactions between the ocean and atmosphere and corresponds to a natural mode of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system (somewhat analogous to the way in which weather corresponds to an unstable mode of the atmosphere). Stability analyses reveal that a variety of unstable modes are possible. Coupled ocean-atmosphere models that march forward in time (and can be used for predictions) capture some of these modes. The differences between the various models and their relevance to the observed phenomenon are discussed.
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