Observed El Nino SSTA Development and the Effects of Easterly and Westerly Wind Events in 2014/15
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Observed El Nino SSTA Development and the Effects of Easterly and Westerly Wind Events in 2014/15

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Climate
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    The unexpected halt of warm sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) growth in 2014 and development of a major El Nino in 2015 has drawn attention to our ability to understand and predict El Nino development. Wind stress-forced ocean model studies have satisfactorily reproduced observed equatorial Pacific SSTAs during periods when data return from the TAO/TRITON buoy network was high. Unfortunately, TAO/TRITON data return in 2014 was poor. To study 2014 SSTA development, the observed wind gaps must be filled. The hypothesis that subseasonal wind events provided the dominant driver of observed waveguide SSTA development in 2014 and 2015 is used along with the available buoy winds to construct an oceanic waveguide-wide surface stress field of westerly wind events (WWEs) and easterly wind surges (EWSs). It is found that the observed Nino-3.4 SSTA development in 2014 and 2015 can thereby be reproduced satisfactorily. Previous 2014 studies used other wind fields and reached differing conclusions about the importance of WWEs and EWSs. Experiment results herein help explain these inconsistencies, and clarify the relative importance of WWEs and EWSs. It is found that the springtime surplus of WWEs and summertime balance between WWEs and EWSs (yielding small net wind stress anomaly) accounts for the early development and midyear reversal of El Nino-like SSTA development in 2014. Astrong abundance of WWEs in 2015 accounts for the rapid SSTA warming observed then. Accurately forecasting equatorial Pacific SSTA in years like 2014 and 2015 may require learning to predict WWE and EWS occurrence characteristics.

    © Copyright 2017 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. All AMS journals and monograph publications are registered with the Copyright Clearance Center (http://www.copyright.com). Questions about permission to use materials for which AMS holds the copyright can also be directed to the AMS Permissions Officer at permissions@ametsoc.org. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement, available on the AMS website (http://www.ametsoc.org/CopyrightInformation).

  • Source:
    Journal of Climate, 30(4), 1505-1519.
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