Response of the tropical Pacific Ocean to El Niño versus global warming


Title: Response of the tropical Pacific Ocean to El Niño versus global warming

Journal: Climate Dynamics, doi: 10.1007/s00382-016-3119-2

Authors: LIU F. -K., Y.-Y. Luo*, J. Lu, and X. -Q. Wan

Abstract:Climate models project an El Niño-like SST response in the tropical Pacific Ocean to global warming (GW). By employing the Community Earth System Model and applying an overriding technique to its ocean component, Parallel Ocean Program version 2, this study investigates the similarity and difference of formation mechanism for the changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean under El Niño and GW. Results show that, despite sharing some similarities between the two scenarios, there are many significant distinctions between GW and El Niño: (1) the phase locking of the seasonal cycle reduction is more notable under GW compared with El Niño, implying more extreme El Niño events in the future; (2) in contrast to the penetration of the equatorial subsurface temperature anomaly that appears to propagate in the form of an oceanic equatorial upwelling Kelvin wave during El Niño, the GW-induced subsurface temperature anomaly manifest in the form of off-equatorial upwelling Rossby waves; (3) while significant across-equator northward heat transport (NHT) is induced by the wind stress anomalies associated with El Niño, little NHT is found at the equator due to a symmetric change in the shallow meridional overturning circulation that appears to be weakened in both North and South Pacific under GW; and (4) heat budget analysis shows that the maintaining mechanisms for the eastern equatorial Pacific warming are also substantially different.