AbstractThe effect of long-term trends and interannual, ENSO-driven variability in the Indian Ocean (IO) on the stability and spatial pattern of ENSO is investigated with an intermediate-complexity two-basin model. The Pacific basin is modeled using a fully coupled (i.e., generating its own background state) Zebiak–Cane model. IO sea surface temperature (SST) is represented by a basinwide warming pattern whose strength is constant or varies at a prescribed lag to ENSO. Both basins are coupled through an atmosphere transferring information between them. For the covarying IO SST, a warm IO during the peak of El Niño (La Niña) dampens (destabilizes) ENSO, and a warm IO during the transition from El Niño to La Niña (La Niña to El Niño) shortens (lengthens) the period. The influence of the IO on the spatial pattern of ENSO is small. For constant IO warming, the ENSO cycle is destabilized because stronger easterlies induce more background upwelling, more thermocline steepening, and a stronger Bjerknes feedback. The SST signal at the east coast weakens or reverses sign with respect to the main ENSO signal [i.e., ENSO resembles central Pacific (CP) El Niños]. This is due to a reduced sensitivity of the SST to thermocline variations in case of a shallow background thermocline, as found near the east coast for a warm IO. With these results, the recent increase in CP El Niño can possibly be explained by the substantial IO (and west Pacific) warming over the last decades.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Apr 12, 2017
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