ENSO suppression due to weakening of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation

Axel Timmermann, S. I. An, U. Krebs, H. Goosse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


Changes of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) excite wave patterns that readjust the thermocline globally. This paper examines the impact of a freshwater-induced THC shutdown on the depth of the Pacific thermocline and its subsequent modification of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability using an intermediate-complexity global coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model and an intermediate ENSO model, respectively. It is shown by performing a numerical eigenanalysis and transient simulations that a THC shutdown in the North Atlantic goes along with reduced ENSO variability because of a deepening of the zonal mean tropical Pacific thermocline. A transient simulation also exhibits abrupt changes of ENSO behavior, depending on the rate of THC change. The global oceanic wave adjustment mechanism is shown to play a key role also on multidecadal time scales. Simulated multidecadal global sea surface temperature (SST) patterns show a large degree of similarity with previous climate reconstructions, suggesting that the observed pan-oceanic variability on these time scales is brought about by oceanic waves and by atmospheric teleconnections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3122-3139
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Aug 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'ENSO suppression due to weakening of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this