La Nina forces unprecedented Leeuwin Current warming in 2011

TitleLa Nina forces unprecedented Leeuwin Current warming in 2011
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsFeng M, McPhaden MJ, Xie SP, Hafner J
JournalScientific Reports
Volume3
Date Published2013/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2045-2322
Accession NumberWOS:000314864800005
Keywordscirculation; climate-change; coral-reefs; el-nino; indian-ocean; model; temperature; tropical pacific-ocean; variability; western-australia
Abstract

Unprecedented warm sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were observed off the west coast of Australia in February-March 2011. Peak SST during a 2-week period were 5 degrees C warmer than normal, causing widespread coral bleaching and fish kills. Understanding the climatic drivers of this extreme event, which we dub "Ningaloo Nino", is crucial for predicting similar events under the influence of global warming. Here we use observational data and numerical models to demonstrate that the extreme warming was mostly driven by an unseasonable surge of the poleward-flowing Leeuwin Current in austral summer, which transported anomalously warm water southward along the coast. The unusual intensification of the Leeuwin Current was forced remotely by oceanic and atmospheric teleconnections associated with the extraordinary 2010-2011 La Nina. The amplitude of the warming was boosted by both multi-decadal trends in the Pacific toward more La Nina-like conditions and intraseasonal variations in the Indian Ocean.

DOI10.1038/srep01277
Short TitleSci Rep
Integrated Research Themes: 
Student Publication: 
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