skip to main content


Title: Two-Way Teleconnections between the Southern Ocean and the Tropical Pacific via a Dynamic Feedback
Abstract Despite substantial global mean warming, surface cooling has occurred in both the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean over the past 40 years, influencing both regional climates and estimates of Earth’s climate sensitivity to rising greenhouse gases. While a tropical influence on the extratropics has been extensively studied in the literature, here we demonstrate that the teleconnection works in the other direction as well, with the southeast Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean exerting a strong influence on the tropical eastern Pacific. Using a slab ocean model, we find that the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) response to an imposed Southern Ocean surface heat flux forcing is sensitive to the longitudinal location of that forcing, suggesting an atmospheric pathway associated with regional dynamics rather than reflecting a zonal-mean energetic constraint. The transient response shows that an imposed Southern Ocean cooling in the southeast Pacific sector first propagates into the tropics by mean-wind advection. Once tropical Pacific SSTs are perturbed, they then drive remote changes to atmospheric circulation in the extratropics that further enhance both Southern Ocean and tropical cooling. These results suggest a mutually interactive two-way teleconnection between the Southern Ocean and tropical Pacific through atmospheric circulations, and highlight potential impacts on the tropics from the extratropical climate changes over the instrumental record and in the future.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1752796
NSF-PAR ID:
10423639
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Volume:
35
Issue:
19
ISSN:
0894-8755
Page Range / eLocation ID:
6267 to 6282
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract In the past 40 years, the global annual mean surface temperature has experienced a nonuniform warming, differing from the spatially uniform warming simulated by the forced responses of large multimodel ensembles to anthropogenic forcing. Rather, it exhibits significant asymmetry between the Arctic and Antarctic, with intermittent and spatially varying warming trends along the Northern Hemisphere (NH) midlatitudes and a slight cooling in the tropical eastern Pacific. In particular, this “wavy” pattern of temperature changes over the NH midlatitudes features strong cooling over Eurasia in boreal winter. Here, we show that these nonuniform features of surface temperature changes are likely tied together by tropical eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs), via a global atmospheric teleconnection. Using six reanalyses, we find that this teleconnection can be consistently obtained as a leading circulation mode in the past century. This tropically driven teleconnection is associated with a Pacific SST pattern resembling the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), and hereafter referred to as the IPO-related bipolar teleconnection (IPO-BT). Further, two paleo-reanalysis reconstruction datasets show that the IPO-BT is a robust recurrent mode over the past 400 and 2000 years. The IPO-BT mode may thus serve as an important internal mode that regulates high-latitude climate variability on multidecadal time scales, favoring a warming (cooling) episode in the Arctic accompanied by cooling (warming) over Eurasia and the Southern Ocean (SO). Thus, the spatial nonuniformity of recent surface temperature trends may be partially explained by the enhanced appearance of the IPO-BT mode by a transition of the IPO toward a cooling phase in the eastern Pacific in the past decades. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Walker circulation variability and associated zonal shifts in the heating of the tropical atmosphere have far-reaching global impacts well into high latitudes. Yet the reversed high latitude–to–Walker circulation teleconnection is not fully understood. Here, we reveal the dynamical pathways of this teleconnection across different components of the climate system using a hierarchy of climate model simulations. In the fully coupled system with ocean circulation adjustments, the Walker circulation strengthens in response to extratropical radiative cooling of either hemisphere, associated with the upwelling of colder subsurface water in the eastern equatorial Pacific. By contrast, in the absence of ocean circulation adjustments, the Walker circulation response is sensitive to the forcing hemisphere, due to the blocking effect of the northward-displaced climatological intertropical convergence zone and shortwave cloud radiative effects. Our study implies that energy biases in the extratropics can cause pronounced changes of tropical climate patterns. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The seasonality of Earth’s climate is driven by two factors: the tilt of the Earth’s rotation axis relative to the plane of its orbit (hereafter thetilt effect), and the variation in the Earth–Sun distance due to the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun (hereafter thedistance effect). The seasonal insolation change between aphelion and perihelion is only ~ 7% of the annual mean and it is thus assumed that the distance effect is not relevant for the seasons. A recent modeling study by the authors and collaborators demonstrated however that the distance effect is not small for the Pacific cold tongue: it drives an annual cycle there that is dynamically distinct and ~ 1/3 of the amplitude from the known annual cycle arising from the tilt effect. The simulations also suggest that the influence of distance effect is significant and pervasive across several other regional climates, in both the tropics and extratropics. Preliminary work suggests that the distance effect works its influence through the thermal contrast between the mostly ocean hemisphere centered on the Pacific Ocean (the ‘Marine hemisphere’) and the hemisphere opposite to it centered over Africa (the ‘Continental hemisphere’), analogous to how the tilt effect drives a contrast between the northern and southern hemispheres. We argue that the distance effect should be fully considered as an annual cycle forcing in its own right in studies of Earth’s modern seasonal cycle. Separately considering the tilt and distance effects on the Earth’s seasonal cycle provides new insights into the workings of our climate system, and of direct relevance to paleoclimate where there are outstanding questions for long-term climate changes that are related to eccentricity variations.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    As the major sink of anthropogenic heat, the Southern Ocean has shown quasi-symmetric, deep-reaching warming since the mid-twentieth century. In comparison, the shorter-term heat storage pattern of the Southern Ocean is more complex and has notable impacts on regional climate and marine ecosystems. By analyzing observational datasets and climate model simulations, this study reveals that the Southern Ocean exhibits prominent decadal (>8 years) variability extending to ∼700-m depth and is characterized by out-of-phase changes in the Pacific and Atlantic–Indian Ocean sectors. Changes in the Pacific sector are larger in magnitude than those in the Atlantic–Indian Ocean sectors and dominate the total heat storage of the Southern Ocean on decadal time scales. Instead of heat uptake through surface heat fluxes, these asymmetric variations arise primarily from wind-driven heat redistribution. Pacemaker and preindustrial simulations of the Community Earth System Model version 1 (CESM1) suggest that these variations in Southern Ocean winds arise primarily from natural variability of the tropical Pacific, as represented by the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO). Through atmospheric teleconnection, the positive phase of the IPO gives rise to higher-than-normal sea level pressure and anticyclonic wind anomalies in the 50°–70°S band of the Pacific sector. These winds lead to warming of 0–700 m by driving the convergence of warm water. The opposite processes, involving cyclonic winds and upper-layer divergence, occur in the Atlantic–Indian Ocean sector. These findings aid our understanding of the time-varying heat storage of the Southern Ocean and provide useful implications on initialized decadal climate prediction.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    This study examined the origin of the systematic underestimation of rainfall anomalies over East Asia during July–August 2020 in operational forecasts. Through partial nudging experiments, we found that the East Asian rainfall anomalies were successfully predicted in GloSea5 with corrected tropical sea surface temperature (SST) forcing. Once the observed SST is applied over the Indian Ocean and tropical central‐eastern Pacific, a low‐level anticyclonic anomaly over the subtropical western Pacific, which transports warm‐moist air from the tropics to increase the East Asian precipitation, is well reproduced as observed. By further separating the SST into climatological and anomalous components, we revealed that the cold and dry mean state bias over the Indian Ocean and central‐eastern Pacific is responsible for the weak anomalous atmospheric teleconnection patterns from the tropics to East Asia. This implies that correcting the model mean climatological fields can directly impact the operational seasonal forecast skill.

     
    more » « less