The extratropical sensitivity to the meridional extent of tropical ENSO forcing

Daeho Jin, Ben P. Kirtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The extratropical response to tropical remote forcing has been examined with so-called tropical ocean-global atmosphere experiments, which use prescribed sea surface temperature (SST) in the tropical Pacific and a slab mixed-layer ocean model elsewhere. In this study we have revisited this experimental design and found that the extratropical response is quite sensitive to the meridional extent of tropical prescribed SST domain. Even in the case of a prescribed annual cycle only (i. e., no ENSO), the differences in the prescribed SST regions lead to different atmospheric motions in the adjacent extratropics. When the tropical forcing includes ENSO, the sensitivity to the meridional domain is more prominent, especially during La Niña events. In La Niña, the prescribed SST is warmer than the simulated SST in the northern subtropics, and the warmer SST differences continue to 30°N. This broad SST differences accompany enhanced atmospheric meridional circulation that directly connects the tropics and extratropics within the Pacific basin. Moreover, the Rossby wave excitation also increases, so the effect of prescribed region difference is felt beyond the Pacific basin. On the other hand, the effect of ENSO sea surface temperature anomalie (i. e., ENSO experiment composite minus control experiment annual cycle, both of which have the same prescribed SST domain) is stronger in the broad tropical forcing experiment. However, the ENSO anomaly composite from own annual cycle is similar regardless of the meridional extent of forcing region, and commonly mimics the Northern Hemisphere El Niño composite of nature in the boreal winter season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-951
Number of pages17
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Air-sea interaction
  • Extratropical ENSO responses
  • TOGA
  • Tropical-extratropical interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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