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  1. El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly skewness encapsulates the nonlinear processes of strong ENSO events and affects future climate projections. Yet, its response to CO2 forcing remains not well understood. Here, we find ENSO skewness hysteresis in a large ensemble CO2 removal simulation. The positive SST skewness in the central-to-eastern tropical Pacific gradually weakens (most pronounced near the dateline) in response to increasing CO2, but weakens even further once CO2 is ramped down. Further analyses reveal that hysteresis of the Intertropical Convergence Zone migration leads to more active and farther eastward-located strong eastern Pacific El Niño events, thus decreasing central Pacific ENSO skewness by reducing the amplitude of the central Pacific positive SST anomalies and increasing the scaling effect of the eastern Pacific skewness denominator, i.e., ENSO intensity, respectively. The reduction of eastern Pacific El Niño maximum intensity, which is constrained by the SST zonal gradient of the projected background El Niño-like warming pattern, also contributes to a reduction of eastern Pacific SST skewness around the CO2 peak phase. This study highlights the divergent responses of different strong El Niño regimes in response to climate change. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the strongest interannual climate variability with far-reaching socioeconomic consequences. Many studies have investigated ENSO-projected changes under future greenhouse warming, but its responses to plausible mitigation behaviors remain unknown. We show that ENSO sea surface temperature (SST) variability and associated global teleconnection patterns exhibit strong hysteretic responses to carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction based on the 28-member ensemble simulations of the CESM1.2 model under an idealized CO2 ramp-up and ramp-down scenario. There is a substantial increase in the ensemble-averaged eastern Pacific SST anomaly variance during the ramp-down period compared to the ramp-up period. Such ENSO hysteresis is mainly attributed to the hysteretic response of the tropical Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone meridional position to CO2 removal and is further supported by several selected single-member Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) model simulations. The presence of ENSO hysteresis leads to its amplified and prolonged impact in a warming climate, depending on the details of future mitigation pathways. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 4, 2024
  3. 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. 
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  4. Abstract El Niño events exhibit rich diversity in their spatial patterns, which can lead to distinct global impacts. Therefore, how El Niño pattern diversity will change in a warmer climate is one of the most critical issues for future climate projections. Based on the sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project simulations, we report an inter-model consensus on future El Niño diversity changes. Central Pacific (CP) El Niño events are projected to occur more frequently compared to eastern Pacific (EP) El Niño events. Concurrently, EP El Niño events are projected to increase in amplitude, leading to higher chances of extreme EP El Niño occurrences. We suggest that enhanced upper-ocean stability due to greenhouse warming can lead to a stronger surface-layer response for increasing positive feedbacks, more favorable excitation of CP El Niño. Whereas, enhanced nonlinear atmospheric responses to EP sea surface temperatures can lead to a higher probability of extreme EP El Niño. 
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  5. A decades-long affair

    Decadal climate variability and change affects nearly every aspect of our world, including weather, agriculture, ecosystems, and the economy. Predicting its expression is thus of critical importance on multiple fronts. Poweret al. review what is known about tropical Pacific decadal climate variability and change, the degree to which it can be simulated and predicted, and how we might improve our understanding of it. More accurate projections will require longer and more detailed instrumental and paleoclimate records, improved climate models, and better data assimilation methods. —HJS

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  6. null (Ed.)
  7. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which originates in the Pacific, is the strongest and most well-known mode of tropical climate variability. Its reach is global, and it can force climate variations of the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans by perturbing the global atmospheric circulation. Less appreciated is how the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans affect the Pacific. Especially noteworthy is the multidecadal Atlantic warming that began in the late 1990s, because recent research suggests that it has influenced Indo-Pacific climate, the character of the ENSO cycle, and the hiatus in global surface warming. Discovery of these pantropical interactions provides a pathway forward for improving predictions of climate variability in the current climate and for refining projections of future climate under different anthropogenic forcing scenarios. 
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