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Yeh, SW, Kang YJ, Noh Y, Miller AJ.  2011.  The North Pacific climate transitions of the winters of 1976/77 and 1988/89. Journal of Climate. 24:1170-1183.   10.1175/2010jcli3325.1   AbstractWebsite

This paper examines characteristic changes in North Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability during the boreal winter (December-February) for two subperiods (1956-88 and 1977-2009) during which the 1976/77 and the 1988/89 climate transitions occurred. It is found that the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO)-like SST variability plays a dominant role in the 1976/77 climate transition, while both the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO)-like and PDO-like SST variability contribute to the 1988/89 climate transition. Furthermore, the leading mode changes from PDO-like SST variability during the period 1956-88 to NPGO-like SST variability during the period 1977-2009, indicative of an enhancement of NPGO-like SST variability since 1988. Changes in sea level pressure across the 1976/77 climate transition project strongly onto the Aleutian low pressure system. But sea level pressure changes across the 1988/89 climate transition project primarily onto the North Pacific Oscillation, which is associated with remote changes in the Arctic Oscillation over the polar region as well. This contributes to enhancing the NPGO-like SST variability after 1988. The authors also analyze the output from an ensemble of Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) experiments in which the observed SSTs are inserted only at grid points in the tropics between 20 degrees S and 20 degrees N. The results indicate that the changes in the North Pacific atmosphere in the 1976/77 climate transition are mostly due to the tropics, whereas those in the 1988/89 climate transition are not.

Overland, JE, Alheit J, Bakun A, Hurrell JW, Mackas DL, Miller AJ.  2010.  Climate controls on marine ecosystems and fish populations. Journal of Marine Systems. 79:305-315.   10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.12.009   AbstractWebsite

This paper discusses large-scale climate variability for several marine ecosystems and suggests types of ecosystem responses to climate change. Our analysis of observations and model results for the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans concludes that most climate variability is accounted for by the combination of intermittent 1-2 year duration events, e.g. the cumulative effect of monthly weather anomalies or the more organized El Nino/La Nina, plus broad-band "red noise" intrinsic variability operating at decadal and longer timescales. While ocean processes such as heat storage and lags due to ocean circulation provide some multi-year memory to the climate system, basic understanding of the mechanisms resulting in observed large decadal variability is lacking and forces the adoption of a "stochastic or red noise" conceptual model of low frequency variability at the present time. Thus we conclude that decadal events with rapid shifts and major departures from climatic means will occur, but their timing cannot be forecast. The responses to climate by biological systems are diverse in character because intervening processes introduce a variety of amplifications, time lags, feedbacks, and non-linearities. Decadal ecosystem variability can involve a variety of climate to ecosystem transfer functions. These can be expected to convert red noise of the physical system to redder (lower frequency) noise of the biological response, but can also convert climatic red noise to more abrupt and discontinuous biological shifts, transient climatic disturbance to prolonged ecosystem recovery, and perhaps transient disturbance to sustained ecosystem regimes. All of these ecosystem response characteristics are likely to be active for at least some locations and time periods, leading to a mix of slow fluctuations, prolonged trends, and step-like changes in ecosystems and fish populations in response to climate change. Climate variables such as temperatures and winds can have strong teleconnections (large spatial covariability) within individual ocean basins, but between-basin teleconnections, and potential climate-driven biological synchrony over several decades, are usually much weaker and a highly intermittent function of the conditions prevailing at the time within the adjoining basins. As noted in the recent IPCC 4th Assessment Report, a warming trend of ocean surface layers and loss of regional sea ice is likely before 2030, due to addition of greenhouse gases. Combined with large continuing natural climate variability, this will stress ecosystems in ways that they have not encountered for at least 100s of years. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Mestas-Nunez, AM, Miller AJ.  2006.  Interdecadal variability and climate change in the eastern tropical Pacific: A review. Progress in Oceanography. 69:267-284.   10.1016/j.pocean.2006.03.011   AbstractWebsite

In this paper, we review interdecadal climatic variability in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. This variability dominates the climatic fluctuations in the North Pacific on scales between ENSO and the centennial trend and is commonly referred to as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO. We include a historical overview and a summary of observational work that describes the surface, tropospheric and subsurface signatures of this variability. Descriptions of interdecadal variability are incomplete at best, mostly due to limitations in the observational record. We emphasize that the well-known "ENSO-like" sea surface temperature (SST) pattern describing the PDO may not be an accurate representation. In the eastern tropical Pacific, the SST maxima are displaced north and south of the equator with larger amplitudes in the northern branch near the coast of North America, which has significant implications for the troposphere-driven circulations. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the PDO. We review these mechanisms and models, which capture our present level of understanding of the problem. We conclude by reporting there is little evidence of both multidecadal variability and the centennial trend in the eastern tropical Pacific. This paper is part of a comprehensive review of the oceanography of the eastern tropical Pacific. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.