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Impact of ENSO longitudinal position on teleconnections to the NAO

Zhang, W., Wang, Z., Stuecker, M. F., Turner, A. G., Jin, F.-F. and Geng, X. (2019) Impact of ENSO longitudinal position on teleconnections to the NAO. Climate Dynamics, 52 (1-2). pp. 257-274. ISSN 0930-7575

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-018-4135-1

Abstract/Summary

While significant improvements have been made in understanding how the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) impacts both North American and Asian climate, its relationship with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) remains less clear. Observations indicate that ENSO exhibits a highly complex relationship with the NAO-associated atmospheric circulation. One critical contribution to this ambiguous ENSO/NAO relationship originates from ENSO’s diversity in its spatial structure. In general, both eastern (EP) and central Pacific (CP) El Niño events tend to be accompanied by a negative NAO-like atmospheric response. However, for two different types of La Niña the NAO response is almost opposite. Thus, the NAO responses for the CP ENSO are mostly linear, while nonlinear NAO responses dominate for the EP ENSO. These contrasting extra-tropical atmospheric responses are mainly attributed to nonlinear air-sea interactions in the tropical eastern Pacific. The local atmospheric response to the CP ENSO sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies is highly linear since the air-sea action center is located within the Pacific warm pool, characterized by relatively high climatological SSTs. In contrast, the EP ENSO SST anomalies are located in an area of relatively low climatological SSTs in the eastern equatorial Pacific. Here only sufficiently high positive SST anomalies during EP El Niño events are able to overcome the SST threshold for deep convection, while hardly any anomalous convection is associated with EP La Niña SSTs that are below this threshold. This ENSO/NAO relationship has important implications for NAO seasonal prediction and places a higher requirement on models in reproducing the full diversity of ENSO.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:70071
Publisher:Springer

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