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The impact of eastern equatorial Pacific convection on the diversity of boreal winter El Nio teleconnection patterns

TitleThe impact of eastern equatorial Pacific convection on the diversity of boreal winter El Nio teleconnection patterns
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsJohnson N.C, Kosaka Y
JournalClimate Dynamics
Date Published2016/12
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0930-7575
Accession NumberWOS:000389605700008
Keywordsarctic amplification; Atmospheric circulation; climate anomalies; Convective threshold; eastern pacific; El Nino; european region; general-circulation model; nino-southern-oscillation; northern-hemisphere winter; Pacific/North American pattern; prediction; sea-surface temperatures; sst anomalies; Subseasonal-to-seasonal climate; Teleconnection patterns; tropical pacific; tropospheric temperature

It is widely recognized that no two El Nio episodes are the same; hence the predictable variations of the climate impacts associated with El Nio remain an open problem. Through an analysis of observational data and of large ensembles from six climate models forced by the observed time-varying sea surface temperatures (SSTs), this study raises the argument that the most fundamental predictable variations of boreal wintertime El Nio teleconnection patterns relate to the distinction between convective (EPC) and non-convective eastern Pacific (EPN) events. This distinction is a consequence of the nonlinear relationship between deep convection and eastern Pacific SSTs, and the transition to a convective eastern Pacific has a predictable relationship with local and tropical mean SSTs. Notable differences (EPC minus EPN) between the teleconnection patterns include positive precipitation differences over southern North America and northern Europe, positive temperature differences over northeast North America, and negative temperature differences over the Arctic. These differences are stronger and more statistically significant than the more common partitioning between eastern Pacific and central Pacific El Nio. Most of the seasonal mean composite anomalies associated with EPN El Nio are not statistically significant owing to the weak SST forcing and small sample sizes; however, the EPN teleconnection is more robust on subseasonal timescales following periods when the EPN pattern of tropical convection is active. These findings suggest that the differences between EPC and EPN climate impacts are physically robust and potentially useful for intraseasonal forecasts for lead times of up to a few weeks.

Short TitleClim. Dyn.
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