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South Pacific decadal climate variability and potential predictability


Lou, J and Holbrook, NJ and O'Kane, TJ, South Pacific decadal climate variability and potential predictability, Journal of Climate, 32, (18) pp. 6051-6069. ISSN 0894-8755 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0249.1


The South Pacific decadal oscillation (SPDO) characterizes the Southern Hemisphere contribution to the Pacific-wide interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO) and is analogous to the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) centered in the North Pacific. In this study, upper ocean variability and potential predictability of the SPDO is examined in HadISST data and an atmosphere-forced ocean general circulation model. The potential predictability of the IPO-related variability is investigated in terms of both the fractional contribution made by the decadal component in the South, tropical and North Pacific Oceans and in terms of a doubly integrated first-order autoregressive (AR1) model. Despite explaining a smaller fraction of the total variance, we find larger potential predictability of the SPDO relative to the PDO. We identify distinct local drivers in the western subtropical South Pacific, where nonlinear baroclinic Rossby wave–topographic interactions act to low-pass filter decadal variability. In particular, we show that the Kermadec Ridge in the southwest Pacific enhances the decadal signature more prominently than anywhere else in the Pacific basin. Applying the doubly integrated AR1 model, we demonstrate that variability associated with the Pacific–South American pattern is a critically important atmospheric driver of the SPDO via a reddening process analogous to the relationship between the Aleutian low and PDO in the North Pacific—albeit that the relationship in the South Pacific appears to be even stronger. Our results point to the largely unrecognized importance of South Pacific processes as a key source of decadal variability and predictability.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:South Pacific decadal oscillation (SPDO), Southern Hemisphere, Pacific, interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), North Pacific
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical Oceanography
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Climate and Climate Change
Objective Field:Climate Variability (excl. Social Impacts)
UTAS Author:Lou, J (Mr Jiale LOU)
UTAS Author:Holbrook, NJ (Professor Neil Holbrook)
ID Code:136697
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2020-01-14
Last Modified:2020-02-05

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