Fokker–Planck dynamics of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation

Soon Il An, Soong Ki Kim, Axel Timmermann

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The asymmetric nature of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is explored by using a probabilistic model (PROM) for ENSO. Based on a Fokker–Planck Equation (FPE), PROM describes the dynamics of a nonlinear stochastic ENSO recharge oscillator model for eastern equatorial Pacific temperature anomalies and equatorial Pacific basin-averaged thermocline depth changes. Eigen analyses of PROM provide new insights into the stationary and oscillatory solutions of the stochastic dynamical system. The first probabilistic eigenmode represents a stationary mode, which exhibits the asymmetric features of ENSO, in case deterministic nonlinearities or multiplicative noises are included. The second mode is linked to the oscillatory nature of ENSO and represents a cyclic asymmetric probability distribution, which emerges from the key dynamical processes. Other eigenmodes are associated with the temporal evolution of higher order statistical moments of the ENSO system. The model solutions demonstrate that the deterministic nonlinearity plays a stronger role in establishing the observed asymmetry of ENSO as compared to the multiplicative stochastic part.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16282
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 1

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© 2020, The Author(s).

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