skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "McPhaden, Michael J."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 16, 2024
  2. Abstract In July 1929, Dr Friedrich Ritter and Dore Strauch left their spouses and the turmoil of post–World War I Germany for the remote, uninhabited, and rugged volcanic island of Floreana in the Galapagos archipelago. Their dream was to live self-sufficiently in an idyllic tropical setting unspoiled by civilization. Wealthy yachters stopping at Floreana in the early 1930s reported on the couple’s pioneering enterprise to the outside world. The news created a sensation that subsequently attracted other settlers, including a mysterious Viennese faux baroness who quickly sowed discord on the island. Not all the participants in this drama survived though. A prolonged drought gripped the island from 1933 to 1935 leading to food shortages that ultimately claimed the life of Dr. Ritter, a vegetarian who unwittingly ate tainted chicken out of desperation. The bizarre intrigues and struggles to endure on Floreana were chronicled in Dore Strauch’s 1936 memoir Satan Came to Eden and a 2013 Hollywood documentary based on it. A story that has not been told is how an extended period of cold La Niña conditions in 1933–35 led to the drought that caused the food shortages. We use an atmospheric reanalysis and other data sources to describe these cold conditions and how they affected the human drama that unfolded on Floreana Island. The protracted La Niña impacted other parts of the globe and in particular was a major influence on development of the 1930s Dust Bowl in the southern plains of the United States. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Five out of six La Niña events since 1998 have lasted two to three years. Why so many long-lasting multiyear La Niña events have emerged recently and whether they will become more common remains unknown. Here we show that ten multiyear La Niña events over the past century had an accelerated trend, with eight of these occurring after 1970. The two types of multiyear La Niña events over this time period followed either a super El Niño or a central Pacific El Niño. We find that multiyear La Niña events differ from single-year La Niñas by a prominent onset rate, which is rooted in the western Pacific warming-enhanced zonal advective feedback for the central Pacific multiyear La Niña events type and thermocline feedback for the super El Niño multiyear La Niña events type. The results from large ensemble climate simulations support the observed multiyear La Niña events–western Pacific warming link. More multiyear La Niña events will exacerbate adverse socioeconomic impacts if the western Pacific continues to warm relative to the central Pacific.

    more » « less
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  6. Abstract

    Low-lying island nations like Indonesia are vulnerable to sea level Height EXtremes (HEXs). When compounded by marine heatwaves, HEXs have larger ecological and societal impact. Here we combine observations with model simulations, to investigate the HEXs and Compound Height-Heat Extremes (CHHEXs) along the Indian Ocean coast of Indonesia in recent decades. We find that anthropogenic sea level rise combined with decadal climate variability causes increased occurrence of HEXs during 2010–2017. Both HEXs and CHHEXs are driven by equatorial westerly and longshore northwesterly wind anomalies. For most HEXs, which occur during December-March, downwelling favorable northwest monsoon winds are enhanced but enhanced vertical mixing limits surface warming. For most CHHEXs, wind anomalies associated with a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and co-occurring La Niña weaken the southeasterlies and cooling from coastal upwelling during May-June and November-December. Our findings emphasize the important interplay between anthropogenic warming and climate variability in affecting regional extremes.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract Understanding the impact of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) on El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is important for climate prediction. By analyzing observational data and performing Indian and Pacific Ocean pacemaker experiments using a state-of-the-art climate model, we find that a positive IOD (pIOD) can favor both cold and warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) in the tropical Pacific, in contrast to the previously identified pIOD-El Niño connection. The diverse impacts of the pIOD on ENSO are related to SSTA in the Seychelles-Chagos thermocline ridge (SCTR; 60°E-85°E and 7°S-15°S) as part of the warm pole of the pIOD. Specifically, a pIOD with SCTR warming can cause warm SSTA in the southeast Indian Ocean, which induces La Niña-like conditions in the tropical Pacific through interbasin interaction processes associated with a recently identified climate phenomenon dubbed the “Warm Pool Dipole”. This study identifies a new pIOD-ENSO relationship and examines the associated mechanisms. 
    more » « less
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  9. Abstract

    Based on velocity data from a long‐term moored observatory located at 0°N, 23°W we present evidence of a vertical asymmetry during the intraseasonal maxima of northward and southward upper‐ocean flow in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. Periods of northward flow are characterized by a meridional velocity maximum close to the surface, while southward phases show a subsurface velocity maximum at about 40 m. We show that the observed asymmetry is caused by the local winds. Southerly wind stress at the equator drives northward flow near the surface and southward flow below that is superimposed on the Tropical Instability Wave (TIW) velocity field. This wind‐driven overturning cell, known as the Equatorial Roll, shows a distinct seasonal cycle linked to the seasonality of the meridional component of the south‐easterly trade winds. The superposition of vertical shear of the Equatorial Roll and TIWs causes asymmetric mixing during northward and southward TIW phases.

    more » « less
  10. Abstract Following the interdecadal shift of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) properties that occurred in 1976/77, another regime shift happened in 1999/2000 that featured a decrease of variability and an increase in ENSO frequency. Specifically, the frequency spectrum of Niño-3.4 sea surface temperature shifted from dominant variations at quasi-quadrennial (~4 yr) periods during 1979–99 to weaker fluctuations at quasi-biennial (~2 yr) periods during 2000–18. Also, the spectrum of warm water volume (WWV) index had almost no peak in 2000–18, implying a nearly white noise process. The regime shift was associated with an enhanced zonal gradient of the mean state, a westward shift in the atmosphere–ocean coupling in the tropical Pacific, and an increase in the static stability of the troposphere. This shift had several important implications. The whitening of the subsurface ocean temperature led to a breakdown of the relationship between WWV and ENSO, reducing the efficacy of WWV as a key predictor for ENSO and thus leading to a decrease in ENSO prediction skill. Another consequence of the higher ENSO frequency after 1999/2000 was that the forecasted peak of sea surface temperature anomaly often lagged that observed by several months, and the lag increased with the lead time. The ENSO regime shift may have altered ENSO influences on extratropical climate. Thus, the regime shift of ENSO in 1999/2000 as well as the model default may account for the higher false alarm and lower skill in predicting ENSO since 1999/2000. 
    more » « less