Sensitivity of the atmospheric response to warm pool El Niño events to modeled SSTs and future climate forcings

Margaret M. Hurwitz*, Chaim I. Garfinkel, Paul A. Newman, Luke D. Oman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Warm pool El Niño (WPEN) events are characterized by positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the central equatorial Pacific. Under present-day climate conditions, WPEN events generate poleward propagating wavetrains and enhance midlatitude planetary wave activity, weakening the stratospheric polar vortices. The late 21st century extratropical atmospheric response to WPEN events is investigated using the Goddard Earth Observing System Chemistry-Climate Model (GEOSCCM), version 2. GEOSCCM simulations are forced by projected late 21st century concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) and by SSTs and sea ice concentrations from an existing ocean-atmosphere simulation. Despite known ocean-atmosphere model biases, the prescribed SST fields represent a best estimate of the structure of late 21st century WPEN events. The future Arctic vortex response is qualitatively similar to that observed in recent decades but is weaker in late winter. This response reflects the weaker SST forcing in the Niño 3.4 region and subsequently weaker Northern Hemisphere tropospheric teleconnections. The Antarctic stratosphere does not respond to WPEN events in a future climate, reflecting a change in tropospheric teleconnections: The meridional wavetrain weakens while a more zonal wavetrain originates near Australia. Sensitivity simulations show that a strong poleward wavetrain response to WPEN requires a strengthening and southeastward extension of the South Pacific Convergence Zone; this feature is not captured by the late 21st century modeled SSTs. Expected future increases in GHGs and decreases in ODSs do not affect the polar stratospheric responses to WPEN. Key Points WPEN response sensitive to SSTs but not future climate conditions No Antarctic stratospheric response to WPEN in a future climate scenario Changes in WPEN teleconnections can be attributed to changing SSTs

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)13,371-13,382
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres
Volume118
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Dec 2013

Keywords

  • ENSO
  • stratosphere
  • teleconnections
  • warm pool El Niño

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