Northern hemisphere stratospheric pathway of different El Niño flavors in stratosphere-resolving CMIP5 models

N. Calvo*, M. Iza, M. M. Hurwitz, E. Manzini, C. Peña-Ortiz, A. H. Butler, C. Cagnazzo, S. Ineson, C. I. Garfinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The Northern Hemisphere (NH) stratospheric signals of eastern Pacific (EP) and central Pacific (CP) El Niño events are investigated in stratosphere-resolving historical simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), together with the role of the stratosphere in driving tropospheric El Niño teleconnections in NH climate. The large number of events in each composite addresses some of the previously reported concerns related to the short observational record. The results shown here highlight the importance of the seasonal evolution of the NH stratospheric signals for understanding the EP and CP surface impacts. CMIP5 models show a significantly warmer and weaker polar vortex during EP El Niño. No significant polar stratospheric response is found during CP El Niño. This is a result of differences in the timing of the intensification of the climatological wavenumber 1 through constructive interference, which occurs earlier in EP than CP events, related to the anomalous enhancement and earlier development of the Pacific-North American pattern in EP events. The northward extension of the Aleutian low and the stronger and eastward location of the high over eastern Canada during EP events are key in explaining the differences in upward wave propagation between the two types of El Niño. The influence of the polar stratosphere in driving tropospheric anomalies in the North Atlantic European region is clearly shown during EP El Niño events, facilitated by the occurrence of stratospheric summer warmings, the frequency of which is significantly higher in this case. In contrast, CMIP5 results do not support a stratospheric pathway for a remote influence of CP events on NH teleconnections.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4351-4371
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme's Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modeling groups for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the U.S. Department of Energy's Program forClimate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. NC and MI acknowledge partial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through Mecanismos y Variabilidad del Acoplamiento Troposfera-Estratosfera (MATRES; Grant CGL2012-34221) and the European project 603557-STRATOCLIM (Grant FP7-ENV.2013.6.1-2). SI was supported by the Joint UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)/Defra MetOffice Hadley Centre Climate Programme(GA01101). CIG was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 1558/14).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Meteorological Society.


  • Climate models
  • El Nino
  • Stratospheric circulation


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