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Impact of South Pacific Subtropical Dipole Mode on the Equatorial Pacific
  • Published Date:
    2018
  • Source:
    Journal of Climate, 31(6), 2197-2216.
Filetype[PDF-3.95 MB]


Details:
  • Description:
    Previous studies have indicated that a sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) dipole in the subtropical South Pacific (SPSD), which peaks in austral summer (January-March), is dominated by thermodynamic processes. Observational analyses and numerical experiments were used to investigate the influence of SPSD mode on the equatorial Pacific. The model is an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a reduced-gravity ocean model. An SPSD-like SSTA was imposed on 1 March, after which the model was free to evolve until the end of the year. The coupled model response showed that warm SSTAs extend toward the equator with northwesterly wind anomalies and then grow to El Nino-like anomalies by the end of the year. SPSD forcing weakens southeasterly trade winds and propagates warm SSTAs toward the equator through wind-evaporation-SST (WES) feedback. Meanwhile, relaxation of trade winds in the eastern equatorial Pacific depresses the thermocline and upwelling. Eastward anomalous currents near the equator cause warm horizontal advection in the central Pacific. Further experiments showed that thermodynamic coupling mainly acts on but is not essential for SSTA propagation, either from the subtropics to the equator or westward along the equator, while oceanic dynamic coupling alone also appears to be able to initiate anomalies on the equator and plays a critical role in SSTA growth in the tropical Pacific. This is consistent with observational analyses, which indicated that influence of WES feedback on SSTA propagation associated with the SPSD is limited. Finally, the warm pole close to the equator plays the dominant role in inducing the El Nino-like anomalies.

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