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Western Pacific oceanic heat content: a better predictor of La Niña than of El Niño

Planton, Y., Vialard, J., Guilyardi, E., Lengaigne, M. and Izumo, T. (2018) Western Pacific oceanic heat content: a better predictor of La Niña than of El Niño. Geophysical Research Letters, 45 (18). pp. 9824-9833. ISSN 0094-8276

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2018gl079341


The western equatorial Pacific oceanic heat content (Warm Water Volume in the west or WWVW) is the best El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) predictorbeyond1‐year lead. Using observations and selected Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) simulations, we show that a discharged WWVW in boreal fall is a better predictor of La Niña than a recharged WWVW for El Niño13 months later, both in terms of occurrence and amplitude. These results are robust when considering the heat content across the entire equatorial Pacific (WWV) at shorter lead‐times, including all CMIP5 models or excluding Niño‐Niña and Niña‐Niño phase transitions. Suggested mechanisms for this asymmetry include 1) the negatively skewed WWVW distribution with stronger discharges related to stronger wind stress anomalies during El Niño and 2) the stronger positive Bjerknes feedback loop during El Niño. The possible role of stronger subseasonal wind variations during El Niño is also discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:79025
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geophysics
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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