Origins of the midlatitude Pacific decadal variability

Tim P. Barnett, David W. Pierce, R. Saravanan, Niklas Schneider, Dietmar Dommenget, Mojib Latif

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Analysis of multiple climate simulations shows much of the midlatitude Pacific decadal variability to be composed of two simultaneously occurring elements: One is a stochastically driven, passive ocean response to the atmosphere while the other is oscillatory and represents a coupled mode of the ocean-atmosphere system. ENSO processes are not required to explain the origins of the decadal variability. The stochastic variability is driven by random variations in wind stress and heat flux associated with internal atmospheric variability but amplified by a factor of 2 by interactions with the ocean. We also found a coupled mode of the ocean-atmosphere system, characterized by a significant power spectral peak near 1 cycle/20 years in the region of the midlatitude North Pacific and Kuroshio Extension. Ocean dynamics appear to play a critical role in this coupled air/sea mode.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1453-1456
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 1999
Externally publishedYes

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