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Title: Insights into ENSO Diversity from an Intermediate Coupled Model. Part I: Uniqueness and Sensitivity of the ENSO Mode

The basic dynamics of the spatiotemporal diversity for El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has been the subject of extensive research and, while several hypotheses have been proposed, remains elusive. One promising line of studies suggests that the observed eastern Pacific (EP) and central Pacific (CP) ENSO may originate from two coexisting leading ENSO modes. We show that the coexistence of unstable EP-like and CP-like modes in these studies arises from contaminated linear stability analysis due to unnoticed numerical scheme caveats. In this two-part study, we further investigate the dynamics of ENSO diversity within a Cane–Zebiak-type model. We first revisit the linear stability issue to demonstrate that only one ENSO-like linear leading mode exists under realistic climate conditions. This single leading ENSO mode can be linked to either a coupled recharge-oscillator (RO) mode favored by the thermocline feedback or a wave-oscillator (WO) mode favored by the zonal advective feedback at the weak air–sea coupling end. Strong competition between the RO and WO modes for their prominence in shaping this ENSO mode into a generalized RO mode makes it sensitive to moderate changes in these two key feedbacks. Modulations of climate conditions yield corresponding modulations in spatial pattern, amplitude, and period associated with this ENSO mode. However, the ENSO behavior undergoing this linear climate condition modulations alone does not seem consistent with the observed ENSO diversity, suggesting the inadequacy of linear dynamics in explaining ENSO diversity. A nonlinear mechanism for ENSO diversity will be proposed and discussed in Part II.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Medium: X Size: p. 7509-7525
["p. 7509-7525"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    Significance Statement

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