Interannual variations of the tropical ocean instability wave and ENSO

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Using ocean data assimilation products, variability of eastern Pacific Ocean tropical instability waves (TIWs) and their interaction with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) were analyzed. TIWs are known to heat the cold tongue through horizontal advection. Conversely, variability of the cold tongue influences TIW variability (TIWV). During La Niña, TIWs are more active and contribute to anomalous warming. During El Niño, TIWs are suppressed and induce an anomalous cooling. TIWV thus acts as negative feedback to ENSO. Interestingly, this feedback is stronger during La Niña than during El Niño. To investigate this negative/asymmetric feedback, a simple parameterization for the horizontal thermal flux convergence due to TIWs was incorporated into a simple ENSO model. The model results suggested that asymmetric thermal heating associated with TIWs can explain the El Niño-La Niña asymmetry (with larger-amplitude El Niños).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3680-3686
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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