The effect of orbital forcing on the mean climate and variability of the tropical Pacific

Axel Timmermann, S. J. Lorenz, S. I. An, A. Clement, S. P. Xie

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99 Citations (Scopus)


Using a coupled general circulation model, the responses of the climate mean state, the annual cycle, and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon to orbital changes are studied. The authors analyze a 1650-yr-long simulation with accelerated orbital forcing, representing the period from 142 000 yr B.P. (before present) to 22 900 yr A.P. (after present). The model simulation does not include the time-varying boundary conditions due to ice sheet and greenhouse gas forcing. Owing to the mean seasonal cycle of cloudiness in the off-equatorial regions, an annual mean precessional signal of temperatures is generated outside the equator. The resulting meridional SST gradient in the eastern equatorial Pacific modulates the annual mean meridional asymmetry and hence the strength of the equatorial annual cycle. In turn, changes of the equatorial annual cycle trigger abrupt changes of ENSO variability via frequency entrainment, resulting in an anticorrelation between annual cycle strength and ENSO amplitude on precessional time scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4147-4159
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Aug 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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