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Zhang, Y, Xie SP, Kosaka Y, Yang JC.  2018.  Pacific decadal oscillation: Tropical Pacific forcing versus internal variability. Journal of Climate. 31:8265-8279.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0164.1   AbstractWebsite

The Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) is the leading mode of sea surface temperature (SST) variability over the North Pacific (north of 20 degrees N). Its South Pacific counterpart (south of 20 degrees S) is the South Pacific decadal oscillation (SPDO). The effects of tropical eastern Pacific (TEP) SST forcing and internal atmospheric variability are investigated for both the PDO and SPDO using a 10-member ensemble tropical Pacific pacemaker experiment. Each member is forced by the historical radiative forcing and observed SST anomalies in the TEP region. Outside the TEP region, the ocean and atmosphere are fully coupled and freely evolve. The TEP-forced PDO (54% variance) and SPDO (46% variance) are correlated in time and exhibit a symmetric structure about the equator, driven by the Pacific-North American (PNA) and Pacific-South American teleconnections, respectively. The internal PDO resembles the TEP-forced component but is related to internal Aleutian low (AL) variability associated with the Northern Hemisphere annular mode and PNA pattern. The internal variability is locally enhanced by barotropic energy conversion in the westerly jet exit region around the Aleutians. By contrast, barotropic energy conversion is weak associated with the internal SPDO, resulting in weak geographical preference of sea level pressure variability. Therefore, the internal SPDO differs from the TEP-forced component, featuring SST anomalies along similar to 60 degrees S in association with the Southern Hemisphere annular mode. The limitations on isolating the internal component from observations are discussed. Specifically, internal PDO variability appears to contribute significantly to the North Pacific regime shift in the 1940s.

Amaya, DJ, Siler N, Xie SP, Miller AJ.  2018.  The interplay of internal and forced modes of Hadley Cell expansion: lessons from the global warming hiatus. Climate Dynamics. 51:305-319.   10.1007/s00382-017-3921-5   AbstractWebsite

The poleward branches of the Hadley Cells and the edge of the tropics show a robust poleward shift during the satellite era, leading to concerns over the possible encroachment of the globe's subtropical dry zones into currently temperate climates. The extent to which this trend is caused by anthropogenic forcing versus internal variability remains the subject of considerable debate. In this study, we use a Joint EOF method to identify two distinct modes of tropical width variability: (1) an anthropogenically-forced mode, which we identify using a 20-member simulation of the historical climate, and (2) an internal mode, which we identify using a 1000-year pre-industrial control simulation. The forced mode is found to be closely related to the top of the atmosphere radiative imbalance and exhibits a long-term trend since 1860, while the internal mode is essentially indistinguishable from the El Nio Southern Oscillation. Together these two modes explain an average of 70% of the interannual variability seen in model "edge indices" over the historical period. Since 1980, the superposition of forced and internal modes has resulted in a period of accelerated Hadley Cell expansion and decelerated global warming (i.e., the "hiatus"). A comparison of the change in these modes since 1980 indicates that by 2013 the signal has emerged above the noise of internal variability in the Southern Hemisphere, but not in the Northern Hemisphere, with the latter also exhibiting strong zonal asymmetry, particularly in the North Atlantic. Our results highlight the important interplay of internal and forced modes of tropical width change and improve our understanding of the interannual variability and long-term trend seen in observations.

Cheng, XH, Xie SP, Du Y, Wang J, Chen X, Wang J.  2016.  Interannual-to-decadal variability and trends of sea level in the South China Sea. Climate Dynamics. 46:3113-3126.   10.1007/s00382-015-2756-1   AbstractWebsite

Interannual-to-decadal variability and trends of sea level in the South China Sea (SCS) are studied using altimetric data during 1993-2012 and reconstructed sea level data from 1950-2009. The interannual variability shows a strong seasonality. Surface wind anomalies associated with El Nio-Southern Oscillation explain the sea-level anomaly pattern in the interior SCS, while Rossby waves radiated from the eastern boundary dominate the sea-level variability in the eastern SCS. Decadal variability of sea level in the SCS follows that in the western tropical Pacific, with large variance found west of Luzon Island. Local atmospheric forcing makes a negative contribution to decadal variability in the central SCS, and Rossby waves radiated from the eastern boundary appear to be important. During 1993-2012, decadal sea level averaged in the SCS is significantly correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) (r = -0.96). The decadal variability associated with the PDO accounts for most part of sea-level trends in the SCS in the last two decades.

Kwon, EY, Deutsch C, Xie SP, Schmidtko S, Cho YK.  2016.  The North Pacific Oxygen uptake rates over the past half century. Journal of Climate. 29:61-76.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00157.1   AbstractWebsite

The transport of dissolved oxygen (O-2) from the surface ocean into the interior is a critical process sustaining aerobic life in mesopelagic ecosystems, but its rates and sensitivity to climate variations are poorly understood. Using a circulation model constrained to historical variability by assimilation of observations, the study shows that the North Pacific thermocline effectively takes up O-2 primarily by expanding the area through which O-2-rich mixed layer water is detrained into the thermocline. The outcrop area during the critical winter season varies in concert with the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). When the central North Pacific Ocean is in a cold phase, the winter outcrop window for the central mode water class (CMW; a neutral density range of = 25.6-26.6) expands southward, allowing more O-2-rich surface water to enter the ocean's interior. An increase in volume flux of water to the CMW density class is partly compensated by a reduced supply to the shallower densities of subtropical mode water ( = 24.0-25.5). The thermocline has become better oxygenated since the 1980s partly because of strong O-2 uptake. Positive O-2 anomalies appear first near the outcrop and subsequently downstream in the subtropical gyre. In contrast to the O-2 variations within the ventilated thermocline, observed O-2 in intermediate water (density range of = 26.7-27.2) shows a declining trend over the past half century, a trend not explained by the open ocean water mass formation rate.