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The role of ocean dynamical thermostat in delaying the El Niño-like response over the equatorial Pacific to climate warming
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Title: The role of ocean dynamical thermostat in delaying the El Niño-like response over the equatorial Pacific to climate warming

Authors: LUO Y. -Y., J. Lu, F. -K. Liu, and O. Garuba

Journal: Journal of Climate, 30: 2811-2827.

Abstract: The role of the ocean dynamics in the response of the equatorial Pacific Ocean to climate warming is investigated using both an atmosphere-ocean coupled climate system and its ocean component. Results show that the initial response (fast pattern) to an uniform heating imposed on to the ocean is a warming centered to the west of the dateline owing to the conventional ocean dynamical thermostat (ODT) mechanism in the eastern equatorial Pacific --- a cooling effect arising from the up-gradient upwelling. With time, the warming pattern gradually propagates eastward, becoming more El Niño-like (slow pattern). The transition from the fast to the slow patterns is likely resulted from i) the gradual warming of the equatorial thermocline temperature, which is associated with the arrival of the relatively warmer extratropical waters advected along the subsurface branch of the subtropical cells (STC) and ii) the reduction of the STC strength itself. A mixed layer heat budget analysis finds that it is the total ocean dynamical effect rather than the conventional ODT that holds the key for understanding the pattern of the SST in the equatorial Pacific and the surface heat flux works just to compensate the ocean dynamics. Further passive tracer experiments with the ocean component of the coupled system verify the role of the ocean dynamical processes in initiating a La Niña-like SST warming and in setting the pace of the transition to an El Niño-like warming and identify an oceanic origin for the slow eastern Pacific warming independent of the weakening trade wind.

 

 

 

 

 

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