The Footprint of the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation in Indian Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures
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The Footprint of the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation in Indian Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures

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  • Journal Title:
    Scientific Reports
  • Description:
    Superimposed on a pronounced warming trend, the Indian Ocean (IO) sea surface temperatures (SSTs) also show considerable decadal variations that can cause regional climate oscillations around the IO. However, the mechanisms of the IO decadal variability remain unclear. Here we perform numerical experiments using a state-of-the-art, fully coupled climate model in which the external forcings with or without the observed SSTs in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (TEP) are applied for 1871-2012. Both the observed timing and magnitude of the IO decadal variations are well reproduced in those experiments with the TEP SSTs prescribed to observations. Although the external forcings account for most of the warming trend, the decadal variability in IO SSTs is dominated by internal variability that is induced by the TEP SSTs, especially the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). The IPO weakens (enhances) the warming of the external forcings by about 50% over the IO during IPO's cold (warm) phase, which contributes about 10% to the recent global warming hiatus since 1999. The decadal variability in IO SSTs is modulated by the IPO-induced atmospheric adjustment through changing surface heat fluxes, sea surface height and thermocline depth.
  • Source:
    Scientific Reports 6 (21251)
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    CC BY
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