Decadal upper ocean temperature variability in the tropical Pacific
Wilco Hazeleger; Martin Visbeck; Mark Cane; Alicia Karspeck; Naomi Naik
Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans 106(C5): 8971-8988
ISSN/ISBN: 0148-0227 DOI: 10.1029/2000jc000536
Decadal variability in upper ocean temperature in the Pacific is studied by using observations and results from model experiments. Especially propagation of upper ocean thermal anomalies from the midlatitudes to the tropics is studied as a possible source for decadal equatorial thermocline variability. In the observations, propagation along the subtropical gyre of the North Pacific is clear. However, no propagation into the equatorial region is found. Model experiments with an ocean model forced with observed monthly wind and wind stress anomalies are performed to study the apparent propagation. Distinct propagation of thermal anomalies in the subtropics is found in the model, although the amplitude of the anomalies is small. The anomalies clearly propagate into the tropics, but they do not reach the equatorial region. The small response at the equator to extratropical variability consists of a change in the mean depth of the thermocline. It appears that most variability in the subtropics and tropics is generated by local wind stress anomalies. The results are discussed by using results from a linear shallow water model in which similar features are found.