Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-1-2002

Department

Marine Science

Abstract

One of the major factors determining the strength and extent of ENSO events is the instability state of the equatorial Pacific coupled ocean-atmosphere system and its seasonal variations. This study analyzes the coupled instability in a hybrid coupled model of the Indo-Pacific region, using the adjoint method for sensitivity studies. It is found that the seasonal changes in the ocean-atmosphere instability strength in the model used here are related to the outcropping of the thermocline in the east equatorial Pacific. From July to December, when the thermocline outcrops over a wide area in the east Pacific, there is a strong surface-thermocline connection and anomalies that arrive as Kelvin waves from the west along the thermocline can reach the surface and affect the SST and thus the coupled system. Conversely, from February to June, when the thermocline outcropping is minimal, the surface decouples from the thermocline and temperature anomalies in the thermocline depth range do not affect the surface and dissipate within the thermocline. The role of vertical mixing rather than upwelling in linking vertical thermocline movements to SST changes is emphasized. It is therefore suggested that the seasonal ocean-atmosphere instability strength in the equatorial Pacific is strongly influenced by the thermocline outcropping and its seasonal modulation, a physical mechanism that is often neglected in intermediate coupled models and that can be represented properly only in models that employ the full dynamics of the mixed layer.

Comments

Publisher Version

© Copyright 2002 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. All AMS journals and monograph publications are registered with the Copyright Clearance Center (http://www.copyright.com). Questions about permission to use materials for which AMS holds the copyright can also be directed to the AMS Permissions Officer at permissions@ametsoc.org. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement, available on the AMS website (http://www.ametsoc.org/CopyrightInformation).

Publication Title

Journal of Climate

Volume

15

Issue

19

First Page

2721

Last Page

2739

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