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Interdecadal Sea Surface Temperature Variability in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Part II: The Role of Equatorial/Off-Equatorial Wind Stresses in a Hybrid Coupled Model

Citation

McGregor, S and Holbrook, NJ and Power, SB, Interdecadal Sea Surface Temperature Variability in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Part II: The Role of Equatorial/Off-Equatorial Wind Stresses in a Hybrid Coupled Model, Journal of Climate, 21, (17) pp. 4242-4256. ISSN 0894-8755 (2008) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2008 American Meteorological Society

Official URL: http://www.ametsoc.org/

DOI: doi:10.1175/2008JCLI2057.1

Abstract

Many modeling studies have been carried out to investigate the role of oceanic Rossby waves linking the off-equatorial and equatorial Pacific Ocean. Although the equatorial ocean response to off-equatorial wind stress forcing alone tends to be relatively small, it is clear that off-equatorial oceanic Rossby waves affect equatorial Pacific Ocean variability on interannual through to interdecadal time scales. In the present study, a hybrid coupled model (HCM) of the equatorial Pacific (between 12.5°S and 12.5°N) was developed and is used to estimate the magnitude of equatorial region variability arising from off-equatorial (poleward of 12.5° latitude) wind stress forcing. The HCM utilizes a reduced-gravity ocean shallow-water model and a statistical atmosphere derived from monthly output from a 100-yr Australian Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre (now the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research) coupled general circulation model integration. The equatorial region wind stress forcing is found to dominate both the interannual and interdecadal SST variability. The equatorial response to off-equatorial wind stress forcing alone is insufficient to initiate an atmospheric feedback that significantly amplifies the original equatorial region variability. Consequently, the predictability of equatorial region SST anomalies (SSTAs) could be limited to 1 yr (the maximum time it takes an oceanic Rossby wave to cross the Pacific Ocean basin in the equatorial region). However, the results also suggest that the addition of off-equatorial wind stress forcing to the HCM leads to variations in equatorial Pacific background SSTA of up to almost one standard deviation. This off-equatorially forced portion of the equatorial SSTA could prove critical for thresholds of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) because they can constructively interfere with equatorially forced SSTA of the same sign to produce significant equatorial region ENSO anomalies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Atmospheric Sciences
Research Field:Climate Change Processes
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Climate and Climate Change
Objective Field:Climate Variability (excl. Social Impacts)
UTAS Author:Holbrook, NJ (Professor Neil Holbrook)
ID Code:52609
Year Published:2008
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2008-08-01
Last Modified:2015-02-28
Downloads:0

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