Using hindcasts produced by a coupled climate model, this study evaluates whether the model can forecast the observed spatiotemporal complexity in the El Niño−Southern Oscillation (ENSO) during the period 1982−2011: the eastern Pacific (EP), central Pacific‐I (CP‐I) and ‐II (CP‐II) types of El Niño, and the multi‐year evolution events of El Niño occurred in 1986–1988 (i.e., 1986/87/88 El Niño) and La Niña occurred in 1998–2000 (i.e., 1998/99/00 La Niña). With regard to the spatial complexity, it is found that the CP‐I type of El Niño is the easiest to hindcast, the CP‐II is second, and the EP is most difficult to hindcast as its amplitude is significantly underestimated in the model used here. The model deficiency in hindcasting the EP El Niño is related to a warm bias in climatological sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical eastern Pacific. This warm bias is related to model biases in the strengths of the Pacific Walker circulation and South Pacific high, both of which are notably weaker than observed. As for the temporal complexity, the model successfully hindcasts the multi‐year evolution of the 1998/99/00 La Niña but fails to accurately hindcast the 1986/87/88 El Niño. This contrasting model performance in hindcastingmore »
To better understand the diverse temporal evolutions of observed El Niño‒Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, which are characterized as single- or multi-year, this study examines similar events in a 2200-year-long integration of Community Earth System Model, version 1. Results show that selective activation of inter- and intra-basin climate interactions (together, pantropical climate interactions) controls ENSO’s evolution pattern. When ENSO preferentially activates inter-basin interactions with tropical Indian and/or Atlantic Oceans, it introduces negative feedbacks into the ENSO phase, resulting in single-year evolution. When ENSO preferentially activates intra-basin interactions with subtropical North Pacific, it causes positive feedbacks, producing multi-year evolution. Three key factors (developing-season intensity, pre-onset Pacific condition, and maximum zonal location) and their thresholds, which determine whether inter- or intra-basin interactions are activated and whether an event will become a single- or multi-year event, are identified. These findings offer a way to predict ENSO’s evolution pattern by incorporating the controlling role of pantropical climate interactions.
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- npj Climate and Atmospheric Science
- Nature Publishing Group
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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