Origin of decadal El Niño-Southern Oscillation-like variability in a coupled general circulation model

Sang Wook Yeh, Ben P. Kirtman

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18 Scopus citations


The origin of decadal El Niño-Southern Oscillation-like variability (hereinafter referred to as DEV) is analyzed in coupled general circulation model (CGCM) simulations. The CGCM experiments test the null hypothesis for the existence of DEV, that is, that DEV is linear, damped, and stochastically forced by atmospheric internal dynamics. In order to test this hypothesis we employ the interactive ensemble coupling strategy. It is found that the spatially averaged variance of sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) and heat content anomaly (HCA) associated with the DEV is linearly related to the amplitude of atmospheric internal dynamics. This result suggests that the DEV is primarily noise forced but that damped coupled feedbacks and/or internal ocean dynamics enhance this variability. The SSTA variability associated with the DEV appears to be of a basin-type standing mode with a triangular shape. However, the decadal evolution of the HCA associated with the DEV shows a systematic westward propagation from the central North Pacific and the eastern South Pacific. Both a singular vector analysis and noise variance analysis based on the coupled simulation results support the argument that atmospheric noise in the subtropics leads to the excitation of the DEV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC01009
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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