skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on March 24, 2024

Title: Parameterizing the nonlinear feedback on ENSO from tropical instability waves (TIWs) by nonlinear eddy thermal diffusivity
As the dominant form of mesoscale variability in the equatorial eastern Pacific, Tropical Instability Waves (TIWs) are known to interact with the El Niño and Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in complex ways. TIWs activity is modulated by the ENSO state and also provide significant feedback on ENSO via nonlinear dynamic heating (NDH), acting as a source of asymmetry between the El Niño and La Niña phases. In this work, we show that the interannual variability of TIWs-induced heat flux and NDH can be approximately expressed in terms of the mean meridional temperature gradient as TIWs tend to transport heat downgradient of the temperature anomalies along the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) front. The TIWs-induced NDH can be quantified as an asymmetric negative feedback on ENSO by a nonlinear thermal eddy diffusivity which depends on the background TIWs pattern and the ENSO-related linear and nonlinear processes. This proposed parameterization scheme can capture well the direct ENSO modulation on TIWs activity, the combination effect arising from the nonlinear interaction between ENSO and the cold tongue annual cycle, and associated ENSO nonlinearity. This parameterization scheme is effectively tested using four ocean reanalysis datasets with different horizontal resolutions that exhibit contrasted patterns of TIWs activity. This scheme may be useful for assessing the TIWs-induced feedback on ENSO in mechanistic ENSO models to better understand the dynamics of ENSO complexity.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2219257
NSF-PAR ID:
10432499
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Climate Dynamics
ISSN:
0930-7575
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Tropical instability waves (TIWs), the dominant form of eddy variability in the tropics, have a peak period at about 5 weeks and are strongly modulated by both the seasonal cycle and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In this study, we first demonstrated that TIW‐induced nonlinear dynamical heating (NDH) is basically proportional to the TIW amplitude depicted by a complex index for TIW. We further delineated that this NDH, capturing the seasonally modulated nonlinear feedback of TIW activity onto ENSO, is well approximated by a theoretical formulation derived analytically from a simple linear stochastic model for the TIW index. The results of this study may be useful for the climate community to evaluate and understand the TIW‐ENSO multiscale interaction.

     
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Although the 1997/98 and 2015/16 El Niño events are considered to be the strongest on record, their subsequent La Niña events exhibited contrasted evolutions. In this study, we demonstrate that the extremely strong period of Tropical Instability Waves (TIWs) at the beginning of boreal summer of 2016 played an important role in hindering the subsequent La Niña’s development by transporting extra off-equatorial heat into the Pacific cold tongue. By comparing the TIWs contribution based on an oceanic mixed-layer heat budget analysis for the 1998 and 2016 episodes, we establish that TIW-induced nonlinear dynamical heating (NDH) is a significant contributor to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phase transition in 2016. TIW-induced NDH contributed to around 0.4°C per month warming during the early boreal summer (May-June) following the 2015/16 El Niño’s peak, which is found to be an essential inhibiting factor that prevented the subsequent La Niña’s growth. A time-mean eddy kinetic energy analysis reveals that anomalous TIWs during 2016 mainly gained their energy from the baroclinic instability conversion due to a strong SST warming in the northeastern off-equatorial Pacific that promoted an increased meridional SST gradient. This highlights the importance of accurately reproducing TIW activity in ENSO simulation and the benefit of off-equatorial SST anomalies in the eastern Pacific as an independent precursor for ENSO predictions. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The longitudinal location of precipitation anomalies over the equatorial Pacific shows a distinctive feature with the westernmost location for La Niña, the easternmost location for eastern Pacific (EP) El Niño, and somewhere between for central Pacific (CP) El Niño, even though the center of the sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) for La Niña is located slightly east of that of CP El Niño. The mechanisms for such a precipitation diversity were investigated through idealized model simulations and moisture and moist static energy budget analyses. It is revealed that the boundary layer convergence anomalies associated with the precipitation diversity are mainly induced by underlying SSTA through the Lindzen–Nigam mechanism, that is, their longitudinal locations are mainly controlled by the meridional and zonal distributions of the ENSO SSTA. The westward shift of the precipitation anomaly center during La Niña relative to that during CP El Niño is primarily caused by the combined effects of nonlinear zonal moist enthalpy advection anomalies and the Lindzen–Nigam mechanism mentioned above. Such a zonal diversity is further enhanced by the “convection–cloud–longwave radiation” feedback, the SST-induced latent heat flux anomalies, and the advection of mean moist enthalpy by anomalous winds. This diversity in the longitudinal location of precipitation anomalies has contributions to the diversities in the longitudinal locations of anomalous Walker circulation and western North Pacific anomalous anticyclone/cyclone among the three types of ENSO.

     
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) results from the instability of and also modulates the strength of the tropical-Pacific cold tongue. While climate models reproduce observed ENSO amplitude relatively well, the majority still simulates its asymmetry between warm (El Niño) and cold (La Niña) phases very poorly. The causes of this major deficiency and consequences thereof are so far not well understood. Analysing both reanalyses and climate models, we here show that simulated ENSO asymmetry is largely proportional to subsurface nonlinear dynamical heating (NDH) along the equatorial Pacific thermocline. Most climate models suffer from too-weak NDH and too-weak linear dynamical ocean-atmosphere coupling. Nevertheless, a sizeable subset (about 1/3) having relatively realistic NDH shows that El Niño-likeness of the equatorial-Pacific warming pattern is linearly related to ENSO amplitude change in response to greenhouse warming. Therefore, better simulating the dynamics of ENSO asymmetry potentially reduces uncertainty in future projections. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract Regional ocean–atmospheric interactions in the summer tropical Indo–northwest Pacific region are investigated using a tropical Pacific Ocean–global atmosphere pacemaker experiment with a coupled ocean–atmospheric model (cPOGA) and a parallel atmosphere model simulation (aPOGA) forced with sea surface temperature (SST) variations from cPOGA. Whereas the ensemble mean features pronounced influences of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the ensemble spread represents internal variability unrelated to ENSO. By comparing the aPOGA and cPOGA, this study examines the effect of the ocean–atmosphere coupling on the ENSO-unrelated variability. In boreal summer, ocean–atmosphere coupling induces local positive feedback to enhance the variance and persistence of the sea level pressure and rainfall variability over the northwest Pacific and likewise induces local negative feedback to suppress the variance and persistence of the sea level pressure and rainfall variability over the north Indian Ocean. Anomalous surface heat fluxes induced by internal atmosphere variability cause SST to change, and SST anomalies feed back onto the atmosphere through atmospheric convection. The local feedback is sensitive to the background winds: positive under the mean easterlies and negative under the mean westerlies. In addition, north Indian Ocean SST anomalies reinforce the low-level anomalous circulation over the northwest Pacific through atmospheric Kelvin waves. This interbasin interaction, along with the local feedback, strengthens both the variance and persistence of atmospheric variability over the northwest Pacific. The response of the regional Indo–northwest Pacific mode to ENSO and influences on the Asian summer monsoon are discussed. 
    more » « less