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Events Calendar

AOSC Seminar: Sea-surface temperature in the north tropical Atlantic as a trigger for El Nino-Southern Oscillation events

Thursday, March 07, 2013, 15:30 - 17:00
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Yoo-Geun Ham NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD


El Niño events, the warm phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), are known to affect other tropical ocean basins through teleconnections. Conversely, mounting evidence suggests that temperature variability in the Atlantic Ocean may also influence ENSO variability. Here we use reanalysis data and general circulation models to show that sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Tropical Atlantic during the boreal spring can serve as a trigger for ENSO events. We identify a subtropical teleconnection in which spring warming in the North Tropical Atlantic can induce a low-level cyclonic atmospheric flow over the eastern Pacific that in turn produces a low-level anticyclonic flow over the western Pacific during the following months. This flow generates easterly winds over the western equatorial Pacific that cools the equatorial Pacific and may trigger a La Niña event during the following winter. Moreover, El Niño events, led by cold anomalies in the North Tropical Atlantic tend to be warm pool El Niño with a centre of action located in the central Pacific, rather than the canonical El Niño events. We suggest that the identification of temperature anomalies in the North Tropical Atlantic could help to forecast the development of different types of El Niño events..

Location : CSS 2400 Auditorium
Contact : Eugenia Kalnay