Section 10
Chapter 9,931

Origin of upper-ocean warming and El Nino change on decadal scales in the tropical Pacific Ocean

Zhang, R.H.; Rothstein, L.M.; Busalacchi, A.J.

Nature 391(6670): 9-83


ISSN/ISBN: 0028-0836
Accession: 009930961

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Upper-ocean warming in the Pacific and decadal changes in the El Nino/Southern Oscillation after 1976 may be due to decadal mid-latitude variability. During the mid-1970s, the North Pacific Ocean was subject to a clear phase-transition, with a "seesaw" anomaly pattern in the subsurface temperature rotating clockwise around the subtropical gyre. In the early 1970s, a subsurface warm anomaly formed at middle latitudes from subducted surface waters, and this penetrated through the subtropics into the tropics and disturbed the tropical thermocline. This perturbation led to the formation of a warm surface-water anomaly that may have affected El Nino during the 1980s. The identification of this teleconnection may facilitate predictions of decadal-scale climate variability.

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