Last Millennium ENSO Diversity and North American Teleconnections: New Insights From Paleoclimate Data Assimilation

Xinyue Luo*, Sylvia Dee, Samantha Stevenson, Yuko Okumura, Nathan Steiger, Luke Parsons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability affects year-to-year changes in North American hydroclimate. Extra-tropical teleconnections are not always consistent between El Niño events due to stochastic atmospheric variability and diverse sea surface temperature anomalies, making it difficult to quantify teleconnections using only instrumentally-based records. Here we use two paleoclimate data assimilation (DA) products spanning the Last Millennium (LM) to compare changes in amplitudes and frequencies of diverse El Niño events during the pre-industrial period and 20th century, and to assess the stationarity of their North American hydroclimate impacts on multi-decadal to centennial timescales. Using several definitions for Central Pacific (CP) and Eastern Pacific (EP) El Niño, we find a marked increase in 20th century EP El Niño intensity, but no significant changes in CP or EP El Niño frequencies in response to anthropogenic forcing. The associated hydroclimate anomalies indicate (a) dry conditions across the eastern-central and northwestern U.S. during CP El Niño and wetter conditions in the same regions during EP El Niño; (b) wet conditions over the southwestern U.S. for both El Niño types. The magnitude of regional hydroclimate teleconnections also shows large natural variability on multi-decadal to centennial timescales. However, when the entire LM is considered, mean hydroclimate anomalies in North America during CP or EP El Niño are consistent in terms of sign (wet vs. dry). Results are sensitive to proxy data and model priors used in DA products. Inconsistencies between El Niño classification methods underscore the need for improved ENSO diversity classification when assessing precipitation teleconnections.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2021PA004283
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Award Number NA18OAR4310427) awarded to S.D. and by a graduate fellowship from the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Rice University. This work was also supported under the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grants AGS‐1805490 to N.S. and AGS‐1805143 to S.S. This work was also supported in part by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) award 2654/20. LAP acknowledges NASA GISS grant number 80NSSC19M0138 for funding support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


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