eCite Digital Repository

Understanding ENSO dynamics through the exploration of past climates


Phipps, SJ and Brown, JN, Understanding ENSO dynamics through the exploration of past climates, IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 06-07 July 2009, Corvallis, USA, pp. 1-6. (2010) [Refereed Conference Paper]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1088/1755-1315/9/1/012010


The palaeoclimate record shows that significant changes in ENSO characteristics took place during the Holocene. Exploring these changes, using both data and models, provides a means of understanding ENSO dynamics. Previous modelling studies have suggested a mechanism whereby changes in the Earth’s orbital geometry explain the strengthening of ENSO over the Holocene. Decreasing summer insolation over the Asian landmass resulted in a weakening of the Asian monsoon system. This led to a weakening of the easterly trade winds in the western Pacific, creating conditions more favourable for El Nino development. To explore this hypothesised forcing mechanism, we use a climate system model to conduct a suite of simulations of the climate of the past 8,000 years. In the early Holocene, we find that the Asian summer monsoon system is intensified, resulting in an amplification of the easterly trade winds in the western Pacific. The stronger trade winds represent a barrier to the eastward propagation of westerly wind bursts, therefore inhibiting the onset of El Nino events. The fundamental behaviour of ENSO remains unchanged, with the major change over the Holocene being the influence of the background state of the Pacific on the susceptibility of the ocean to the initiation of El Nino events.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:palaeoclimatology, El Nino-Southern Oscillation
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Palaeoclimatology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Phipps, SJ (Dr Steven Phipps)
ID Code:104708
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-11-18
Last Modified:2016-02-29
Downloads:172 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page