The role of the South Pacific in modulating Tropical Pacific variability

Chung, Christine T. Y. and Power, Scott B. and Sullivan, Arnold and Delage, Francois (2019) The role of the South Pacific in modulating Tropical Pacific variability. Scientific Reports, 9 (1):18311. pp. 1-13.

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Tropical Pacific variability (TPV) heavily influences global climate, but much is still unknown about its drivers. We examine the impact of South Pacific variability on the modes of TPV: the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). We conduct idealised coupled experiments in which we suppress temperature and salinity variability at all oceanic levels in the South Pacific. This reduces decadal variability in the equatorial Pacific by ~30% and distorts the spatial pattern of the IPO. There is little change to overall interannual variability, however there is a decrease in the magnitude of the largest 5% of both El Niño and La Niña sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies. Possible reasons for this include: (i) reduced decadal variability means that interannual SST variability is superposed onto a ‘flatter’ background signal, (ii) suppressing South Pacific variability leads to the alteration of coupled processes linking the South and equatorial Pacific. A small but significant mean state change arising from the imposed suppression may also contribute to the weakened extreme ENSO SST anomalies. The magnitude of both extreme El Niño and La Niña SST anomalies are reduced, and the associated spatial patterns of change of upper ocean heat content and wind stress anomalies are markedly different for both types of events.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2021 04:20
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: El Nino; heat; human; salinity; sea surface temperature; stress
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040105 Climatology (excl.Climate Change Processes)
Fields of Research (2020): 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3702 Climate change science > 370201 Climate change processes
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960304 Climate Variability (excl. Social Impacts)
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1905 Understanding climate change > 190502 Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
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