Role of the climatological intertropical convergence zone in the seasonal footprinting mechanism of El Niño-Southern Oscillation

Jae Heung Park, Mi Kyung Sung, Young Min Yang, Jiuwei Zhao, Soon Il An, Jong Seong Kug

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10 Citations (Scopus)


The North Pacific Oscillation (NPO), a primary atmospheric mode over the North Pacific Ocean in boreal winter, is known to trigger El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the following winter, the process of which is recognized as the seasonal footprinting mechanism (SFM). On the basis of the analysis of model simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), we found that the SFM acts differently among models, and the correlation between the NPO and subsequent ENSO events, called the SFM efficiency, depends on the background mean state of the model. That is, SFM efficiency becomes stronger as the climatological position of the Pacific intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) moves poleward, representing an intensification of the northern branch of the ITCZ. When the Pacific ITCZ is located poleward, the wind-evaporation-sea surface temperature (SST) feedback becomes stronger as the precipitation response to the SST anomaly is stronger in higher latitudes than that in lower latitudes. In addition, such active ocean- atmosphere interactions enhance NPO variability, favoring the SFM to operate efficiently and trigger an ENSO event. Consistent with the model results, the observed SFM efficiency increased during the decades in which the northern branch of the climatological ITCZ was intensified, supporting the importance of the tropical mean state of precipitation around the Pacific ITCZ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5243-5256
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. We appreciate the constructive comments and suggestions provided by the three anonymous reviewers and the editor (Prof. Yuko M. Okumura). This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (NRF-2020R1C1C1006569; NRF-2018R1A5A1024958).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Meteorological Society. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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