Global warming-induced changes in El Nino teleconnections over the North Pacific and North America

TitleGlobal warming-induced changes in El Nino teleconnections over the North Pacific and North America
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsZhou ZQ, Xie SP, Zheng XT, Liu QY, Wang H
JournalJournal of Climate
Date Published2014/12
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0894-8755
Accession NumberWOS:000346055900004
KeywordsAtmospheric circulation; climate; impact; indo-pacific; patterns; precipitation; projections; tropical pacific; variability; zonal mean flow

El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) induces climate anomalies around the globe. Atmospheric general circulation model simulations are used to investigate how ENSO-induced teleconnection patterns during boreal winter might change in response to global warming in the Pacific-North American sector. As models disagree on changes in the amplitude and spatial pattern of ENSO in response to global warming, for simplicity the same sea surface temperature (SST) pattern of ENSO is prescribed before and after the climate warming. In a warmer climate, precipitation anomalies intensify and move eastward over the equatorial Pacific during El Nino because the enhanced mean SST warming reduces the barrier to deep convection in the eastern basin. Associated with the eastward shift of tropical convective anomalies, the ENSO-forced Pacific-North American (PNA) teleconnection pattern moves eastward and intensifies under the climate warming. By contrast, the PNA mode of atmospheric internal variability remains largely unchanged in pattern, suggesting the importance of tropical convection in shifting atmospheric teleconnections. As the ENSO-induced PNA pattern shifts eastward, rainfall anomalies are expected to intensify on the west coast of North America, and the El Nino-induced surface warming to expand eastward and occupy all of northern North America. The spatial pattern of the mean SST warming affects changes in ENSO teleconnections. The teleconnection changes are larger with patterned mean warming than in an idealized case where the spatially uniform warming is prescribed in the mean state. The results herein suggest that the eastward-shifted PNA pattern is a robust change to be expected in the future, independent of the uncertainty in changes of ENSO itself.

Integrated Research Themes: 
Student Publication: