skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: ENSO and Pacific Decadal Variability in the Community Earth System Model Version 2
Abstract

This study presents a description of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific Decadal Variability (PDV) in a multicentury preindustrial simulation of the Community Earth System Model Version 2 (CESM2). The model simulates several aspects of ENSO relatively well, including dominant timescale, tropical and extratropical precursors, composite evolution of El Niño and La Niña events, and ENSO teleconnections. The good model representation of ENSO spectral characteristics is consistent with the spatial pattern of the anomalous equatorial zonal wind stress in the model, which results in the correct adjustment timescale of the equatorial thermocline according to the delayed/recharge oscillator paradigms, as also reflected in the realistic time evolution of the equatorial Warm Water Volume. PDV in the model exhibits a pattern that is very similar to the observed, with realistic tropical and South Pacific signatures which were much weaker in some of the CESM2 predecessor models. The tropical component of PDV also shows an association with ENSO decadal modulation which is similar to that found in observations. However, the ENSO amplitude is about 30% larger than observed in the preindustrial CESM2 simulation, and even larger in the historical ensemble, perhaps as a result of anthropogenic influences. In contrast to observations, the largest variability is found in the central Pacific rather than in the eastern Pacific, a discrepancy that somewhat hinders the model's ability to represent a full diversity in El Niño spatial patterns and appears to be associated with an unrealistic confinement of the precipitation anomalies to the western Pacific.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1756883
NSF-PAR ID:
10363468
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Volume:
12
Issue:
12
ISSN:
1942-2466
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    In situ observation networks and reanalyses products of the state of the atmosphere and upper ocean show well-defined, large-scale patterns of coupled climate variability on time scales ranging from seasons to several decades. We summarize these phenomena and their physics, which have been revealed by analysis of observations, by experimentation with uncoupled and coupled atmosphere and ocean models with a hierarchy of complexity, and by theoretical developments. We start with a discussion of the seasonal cycle in the equatorial tropical Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, which are clearly affected by coupling between the atmosphere and the ocean. We then discuss the tropical phenomena that only exist because of the coupling between the atmosphere and the ocean: the Pacific and Atlantic meridional modes, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the Pacific, and a phenomenon analogous to ENSO in the Atlantic. For ENSO, we further discuss the sources of irregularity and asymmetry between warm and cold phases of ENSO, and the response of ENSO to forcing. Fundamental to variability on all time scales in the midlatitudes of the Northern Hemisphere are preferred patterns of uncoupled atmospheric variability that exist independent of any changes in the state of the ocean, land, or distribution of sea ice. These patterns include the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO), and the Pacific–North American (PNA) pattern; they are most active in wintertime, with a temporal spectrum that is nearly white. Stochastic variability in the NPO, PNA, and NAO force the ocean on days to interannual times scales by way of turbulent heat exchange and Ekman transport, and on decadal and longer time scales by way of wind stress forcing. The PNA is partially responsible for the Pacific decadal oscillation; the NAO is responsible for an analogous phenomenon in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre. In models, stochastic forcing by the NAO also gives rise to variability in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) that is partially responsible for multidecadal anomalies in the North Atlantic climate known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO); observations do not yet exist to adequately determine the physics of the AMO. We review the progress that has been made in the past 50 years in understanding each of these phenomena and the implications for short-term (seasonal-to-interannual) climate forecasts. We end with a brief discussion of advances of things that are on the horizon, under the rug, and over the rainbow.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    A cyclostationary linear inverse model (CSLIM) is used to investigate the seasonal growth of tropical Pacific Ocean El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events with canonical, central Pacific (CP), or eastern Pacific (EP) sea surface temperature (SST) characteristics. Analysis shows that all types of ENSO events experience maximum growth toward final states occurring in November and December. ENSO events with EP characteristics also experience growth into May and June, but CP events do not. A single dominant “ENSO mode,” growing from an equatorial heat content anomaly into a characteristic ENSO-type SST pattern in about 9 months (consistent with the delayed/recharge oscillator model of ENSO), is essential for the predictable development of all ENSO events. Notably, its seasonality is responsible for the late-calendar-year maximum in ENSO amplification. However, this ENSO mode alone does not capture the observed growth and evolution of diverse ENSO events, which additionally involve the seasonal evolution of other nonorthogonal Floquet modes. EP event growth occurs when the ENSO mode is initially “covered up” in combination with other Floquet modes. The ENSO mode’s slow seasonal evolution allows it to emerge while the other modes rapidly evolve and/or decay, leading to strongly amplifying and more predictable EP events. CP events develop when the initial state has a substantial contribution from Floquet modes with meridional mode–like SST structures. Thus, while nearly all ENSO events involve the seasonally varying ENSO-mode dynamics, the diversity and predictability of ENSO events cannot be understood without identifying contributions from the remaining Floquet modes.

    Significance Statement

    The purpose of this study is to identify structures that lead to seasonal growth of diverse types of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. An important contribution from this study is that it uses an observationally constrained, empirically derived seasonal model. We find that processes affecting the evolution of diverse ENSO events are strongly seasonally dependent. ENSO events with eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) characteristics are closely related to a single “ENSO mode” that resembles theoretical models of ENSO variability. ENSO events that have central equatorial Pacific SST characteristics include contributions from additional “meridional mode” structures that evolve via different physical processes. These findings are an important step in evaluating the seasonal predictability of ENSO diversity.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The summer North American dipole (NAD) is a pattern of climate variability linked to variations in boreal forest seed production and migration of seed-eating birds. This is a modeling investigation of two teleconnections identified as drivers of the NAD in prior observational work: 1) tropically sourced atmospheric Rossby waves associated with anomalies in the phase distribution of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) (i.e., phases 1 and 6 are anomalously prominent), and 2) a pan-Pacific atmospheric Rossby wave linked to East Asian monsoonal (EAM) convection. Sea surface temperature (SST) boundary forcing experiments were conducted with the Community Earth System Model 2 (CESM2) to trigger convection patterns that align with those observed during EAM and nonuniform phase distributions of MJO. For the EAM case, an El Niño–like SST dipole pattern combined with cool southern Japan SST forcing produced a convection and jet stream shift anomaly over East Asia and the northern Pacific with a positive NAD pattern downstream over North America, similar to the observed pattern when precipitation over East Asia (PEA) is relatively high. A companion experiment with only ENSO-like SST forcing also produced the NAD but featured a different structure over the Eurasian continent with a response resembling the summer east Atlantic (SEA) pattern over eastern North America and the eastern Atlantic. Simulation results suggest that the southern Japan SST forcing region has a secondary importance in triggering the NAD, producing only a somewhat NAD-like pattern by itself and only slightly improving the NAD produced by ENSO-like forcing. Simulations using SST forcing to induce seasonal convection anomalies with spatial patterns similar to anomalously frequent occurrence of MJO phase 1 (phase 6) produced circulation response patterns resembling the positive NAD (negative NAD).

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract Recent studies demonstrated the existence of a conspicuous atmospheric combination mode (C-mode) originating from nonlinear interactions between El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific warm pool annual cycle (AC). Here we find that the C-mode exhibits prominent decadal amplitude variations during the ENSO decaying boreal spring season. It is revealed that the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) can largely explain this waxing and waning in amplitude. A robust positive correlation between ENSO and the C-mode is detected during a negative AMO phase but not during a positive phase. Similar results can also be found in the relationship of ENSO with 1) the western North Pacific (WNP) anticyclone and 2) spring precipitation over southern China, both of which are closely associated with the C-mode. We suggest that ENSO property changes due to an AMO modulation play a crucial role in determining these decadal shifts. During a positive AMO phase, ENSO events are distinctly weaker than those in an AMO negative phase. In addition, El Niño events concurrent with a positive AMO phase tend to exhibit a westward-shifted sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly pattern. These SST characteristics during the positive AMO phase are both not conducive to the development of the meridionally asymmetric C-mode atmospheric circulation pattern and thus reduce the ENSO/C-mode correlation on decadal time scales. These observations can be realistically reproduced by a coupled general circulation model (CGCM) experiment in which North Atlantic SSTs are nudged to reproduce a 50-yr sinusoidally varying AMO evolution. Our conclusion carries important implications for understanding seasonally modulated ENSO dynamics and multiscale climate impacts over East Asia. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Climate variability has distinct spatial patterns with the strongest signal of sea surface temperature (SST) variance residing in the tropical Pacific. This interannual climate phenomenon, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), impacts weather patterns across the globe via atmospheric teleconnections. Pronounced SST variability, albeit of smaller amplitude, also exists in the other tropical basins as well as in the extratropical regions. To improve our physical understanding of internal climate variability across the global oceans, we here make the case for a conceptual model hierarchy that captures the essence of observed SST variability from subseasonal to decadal timescales. The building blocks consist of the classic stochastic climate model formulated by Klaus Hasselmann, a deterministic low-order model for ENSO variability, and the effect of the seasonal cycle on both of these models. This model hierarchy allows us to trace the impacts of seasonal processes on the statistics of observed and simulated climate variability. One of the important outcomes of ENSO’s interaction with the seasonal cycle is the generation of a frequency cascade leading to deterministic climate variability on a wide range of timescales, including the near-annual ENSO Combination Mode. Using the aforementioned building blocks, we arrive at a succinct conceptual model that delineates ENSO’s ubiquitous climate impacts and allows us to revisit ENSO’s observed statistical relationships with other coherent spatio-temporal patterns of climate variability—so called empirical modes of variability. We demonstrate the importance of correctly accounting for different seasonal phasing in the linear growth/damping rates of different climate phenomena, as well as the seasonal phasing of ENSO teleconnections and of atmospheric noise forcings. We discuss how previously some of ENSO’s relationships with other modes of variability have been misinterpreted due to non-intuitive seasonal cycle effects on both power spectra and lead/lag correlations. Furthermore, it is evident that ENSO’s impacts on climate variability outside the tropical Pacific are oftentimes larger than previously recognized and that accurately accounting for them has important implications. For instance, it has been shown that improved seasonal prediction skill can be achieved in the Indian Ocean by fully accounting for ENSO’s seasonally modulated and temporally integrated remote impacts. These results move us to refocus our attention to the tropical Pacific for understanding global patterns of climate variability and their predictability.

     
    more » « less