An interhemispheric tropical sea level seesaw due to El Nino Taimasa

Matthew Widlansky, Axel Timmermann, Shayne McGregor, Malte F Stuecker, Wenju Cai

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40 Citations (Scopus)


During strong El Ni?o events, sea level drops around some tropical western Pacific islands by up to 2030 cm. Such events (referred to as taimasa in Samoa) expose shallow reefs, thereby causing severe damage to associated coral ecosystems and contributing to the formation of microatolls. During the termination of strong El Ni?o events, a southward movement of weak trade winds and the development of an anomalous anticyclone in the Philippine Sea are shown to force an interhemispheric sea level seesaw in the tropical Pacific that enhances and prolongs extreme low sea levels in the southwestern Pacific. Spectral features, in addition to windforced linear shallow water ocean model experiments, identify a nonlinear interaction between El Ni?o and the annual cycle as the main cause of these sea level anomalies. (c) 2014 American Meteorological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1070 - 1081
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • westerly wind
  • El Nino-Southern Oscillation
  • El Nino

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