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What controls phase-locking of ENSO to boreal winter in coupled GCMs?

Cited 33 time in Web of Science Cited 36 time in Scopus

Ham, Yoo-Geun; Kug, Jong-Seong; Kim, Daehyun; Kim, Young-Ho; Kim, Dong-Hoon

Issue Date
Springer Verlag
Climate Dynamics, Vol.40 No.5-6, pp.1551-1568
In this study, the phase-locking of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in a coupled model with different physical parameter values is investigated. It is found that there is a dramatic change in ENSO phase-locking in response to a slight change in the Tokioka parameter, which is a minimum entrainment rate threshold in the cumulus parameterization. With a smaller Tokioka parameter, the model simulates ENSO peak in the boreal summer season rather than in the winter season as observed. It is revealed that the differences in climatological zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradient and its associated mean state changes are crucial to determine the phase-locking of ENSO. In the simulations with smaller Tokioka parameter values, climatological zonal SST gradient during the boreal summer is excessively large, because the zonally-asymmetric SST change (i.e., SST increase is relatively smaller over the eastern Pacific) is maximum during the boreal summer when the eastern Pacific SST is the coolest of the year. The enhanced climatological zonal SST gradient in boreal summer reduces the convection over the eastern Pacific, which leads to a weakening of air-sea coupling strength. The minimum coupling strength during summer prevents SST anomalies from further development in the following season, which favors SST maximum during summer. In addition, enhanced zonal SST gradient and resultant thermocline shoaling over the eastern Pacific lead to excessive zonal advective feedback and thermocline feedback. Atmospheric damping is also weakened during boreal summer season. These changes due to feedback processes allow an excessive development of SST anomalies during the summer time, and lead to a summer peak of ENSO. The importance of basic state change for the ENSO phase-locking is also validated in a multi-model framework using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase-3 archive. It is found that several of the climate models have the same problem in producing a summer peak of ENSO. Consistent with the simulations with different physical parameter values, these models have minimum air-sea coupling strength during the boreal summer season. Also, they have stronger climatological zonal SST gradient and shallower climatological thermocline depth over the eastern Pacific during the boreal summer season.
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Related Researcher

  • College of Natural Sciences
  • Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Research Area Climate Change, Earth & Environmental Data, Severe Weather, 기후과학, 위험기상, 지구환경 데이터과학


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