The low-frequency relationship between interannual tropical and North Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in observations and a coupled general circulation model (CGCM) is investigated. The authors use the interactive ensemble CGCM, which advances a new approach for artificially increasing the signal-to-noise ratio, making it easier to detect physical and dynamical links with much reduced interference by atmospheric noise. The results presented here suggest that decadal variations in the relationship between the dominant modes of tropical and North Pacific interannual SSTA variability result from changes of spatial manifestation of North Pacific SSTA, both in the observation and in the model. The authors conjecture that the details of tropical Pacific SST forcing ultimately determine the tropical-North Pacific SST teleconnections, and this conjecture is examined in a much longer time series from a CGCM simulation. There are two patterns of North Pacific interannual SSTA variability in the model. The first pattern is locally forced by noise in the surface air-sea fluxes associated due to internal atmospheric dynamics. The second pattern is remotely forced by tropical SSTA. As the relationship of tropical-North Pacific SST teleconnections varies in the model, the spatial manifestation of the North Pacific SSTA changes from the atmospheric noise-forced pattern to the remotely forced pattern and vice versa. In the model, the amplitude of the tropical Pacific SSTA variance varies on decadal time scales and this largely determines the dominant structure of North Pacific SSTA variability. Furthermore, the change in location of the maximum tropical SST forcing is associated with the changes in the spatial manifestation of North Pacific interannual SSTA variability.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science