AbstractAfter the quick decaying of the 2015 super El Niño, the predicted La Niña unexpectedly failed to materialize to the anticipated standard in 2016. The diagnosis analyses, as well as numerical experiments, showed that such ENSO evolution of the 2015 super El Niño and the hindered 2016 La Niña may be essentially contributed by the sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the subtropical Pacific. The self-sustaining SSTAs in the subtropical Pacific tend to weaken the trade winds during boreal spring-summer, leading to anomalous westerlies along the equatorial region over a period of more than one season. Such long-lasting wind anomalies provide an essential requirement for the ENSO formation, particularly before a positive Bjerkness feedback is thoroughly built up between the oceanic and atmospheric states. Besides the 2015 super El Niño and the hindered La Niña in 2016, there were several other El Niño/La Niña events that cannot be explained only by the oceanic heat content in the equatorial Pacific. However, the puzzles related with those eccentric El Niño/La Niña events can be well explained by suitable SSTAs in the subtropical Pacific. Thus, the leading SSTAs in the subtropical Pacific can be treated as an independent indicator for ENSO prediction, on the basis of the oceanic heat content inherent in the equatorial region. Because ENSO events have become more uncertain under the background of global warming and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation during recent decades, thorough investigations of the role of the subtropical Pacific in ENSO formation are urgently needed.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Nov 16, 2017
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