Scientia Marina, Vol 76, No S1 (2012)

Changes in the interannual variability of the tropical Pacific as a response to an equatorial Atlantic forcing

Marta Martín-Rey
Instituto de Geociencias, CSIC-UCM - Universidad Complutense Madrid, Departamento de Física de la Tierra Astronomía y Astrofísica I , Spain

Irene Polo
NCAS-Climate, University of Reading , United Kingdom

Belén Rodríguez-Fonseca
Instituto de Geociencias, CSIC-UCM - Universidad Complutense Madrid, Departamento de Física de la Tierra Astronomía y Astrofísica I , Spain

Fred Kucharski
Abdus Salam International Centre for Theorical Physics (ICTP) , Italy


Previous studies have reported that the tropical Atlantic has had an influence on tropical Pacific interannual variability since the 1970s. This variability is studied in the present work, using simulations from a coupled model in the Indo-Pacific but with observed sea surface temperature (SST) prescribed over the Atlantic. The interannual variability is compared with that from a control simulation in which climatological SSTs are prescribed over the Atlantic. Differences in the Pacific mean state and in its variability are found in the forced simulation as a response to a warming in the equatorial Atlantic, characterized by a cooler background state and an increase in the variability over the tropical Pacific. A striking result is that the principal modes of tropical Pacific SST interannual variability show significant differences before and after the 1970s, providing new evidence of the Atlantic influence on the Pacific Ocean. Significant cooling (warming) in the equatorial Atlantic could have caused anomalous winds in the central-easter Pacific during the summer since 1970s. The thermocline depth also seems to be altered, triggering the dynamical processes involved in the development of El Niño (La Niña) phenomenon in the following winter. An increase in frequency of Niño and Niña events favouring the Central Pacific (CP) ones is observed in the last three decades. Further analyses using coupled models are still necessary to help us to understand the causes of this inter-basin connection.


Tropical Atlantic variability; Atlantic-Pacific connection; ENSO

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