The effects of remote SST forcings on ENSO dynamics, variability and diversity

Dietmar Dommenget, Yanshan Yu

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Air-sea interactions with remote regions in the tropical Indian and Atlantic, and extra-tropical oceans can influence ENSO features in the tropical Pacific. In this study these effects are explored by using an AGCM coupled with a Slab Ocean and a simple recharge oscillator ENSO model through switched on/off air-sea interaction in respective ocean area. It is shown that the decoupling in different remote regions has different impacts on ENSO dynamics, variability and diversity. The most interesting result is that the air-sea interactions with remote tropical oceans provide a delayed negative feedback to ENSO similar to that of the tropical Pacific Ocean internal wave dynamics. This is caused by the ENSO teleconnections: they lead to a delayed remote warming and cooling, which in turn feedbacks to ENSO effectively giving a delayed negative feedback. The model simulations suggest that this remote delayed feedback may contribute about 40% to the total delayed negative feedback of ENSO. Thus a central element of ENSO dynamics is partly due to interactions with other tropical ocean basins by atmospheric teleconnections. Furthermore, all remote regions effectively provide stochastic forcings for the ENSO variability and therefore increase the ENSO variability. The influence from the remote regions also causes different patterns of sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the tropical Pacific, contributing to the diversity of the ENSO mode. In particular the extra-tropical Pacific regions force SST variability that is different from the equatorial ENSO mode of variability. The influence that the remote regions have on the ENSO dynamics and variability is significantly altered by the interaction between the equatorial recharge oscillator dynamics and the simple thermodynamic slab ocean processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2605-2624
Number of pages20
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Climate variability
  • El Nino
  • ENSO
  • Teleconnections

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