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Eddebbar, YA, Rodgers KB, Long MC, Subramanian AC, Xie SP, Keeling RF.  2019.  El Nino-like physical and biogeochemical ocean response to tropical eruptions. Journal of Climate. 32:2627-2649.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0458.1   AbstractWebsite

The oceanic response to recent tropical eruptions is examined in Large Ensemble (LE) experiments from two fully coupled global climate models, the Community Earth System Model (CESM) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Earth System Model (ESM2M), each forced by a distinct volcanic forcing dataset. Following the simulated eruptions of Agung, El Chichon, and Pinatubo, the ocean loses heat and gains oxygen and carbon, in general agreement with available observations. In both models, substantial global surface cooling is accompanied by El Nino-like equatorial Pacific surface warming a year after the volcanic forcing peaks. A mechanistic analysis of the CESM and ESM2M responses to Pinatubo identifies remote wind forcing from the western Pacific as a major driver of this El Nino-like response. Following eruption, faster cooling over the Maritime Continent than adjacent oceans suppresses convection and leads to persistent westerly wind anomalies over the western tropical Pacific. These wind anomalies excite equatorial downwelling Kelvin waves and the upwelling of warm subsurface anomalies in the eastern Pacific, promoting the development of El Nino conditions through Bjerknes feedbacks a year after eruption. This El Nino-like response drives further ocean heat loss through enhanced equatorial cloud albedo, and dominates global carbon uptake as upwelling of carbon-rich waters is suppressed in the tropical Pacific. Oxygen uptake occurs primarily at high latitudes, where surface cooling intensifies the ventilation of subtropical thermocline waters. These volcanically forced ocean responses are large enough to contribute to the observed decadal variability in oceanic heat, carbon, and oxygen.

Zhou, ZQ, Zhang RH, Xie SP.  2019.  Interannual variability of summer surface air temperature over central India: Implications for monsoon onset. Journal of Climate. 32:1693-1706.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0675.1   AbstractWebsite

Year-to-year variability of surface air temperature (SAT) over central India is most pronounced in June. Climatologically over central India, SAT peaks in May, and the transition from the hot premonsoon to the cooler monsoon period takes place around 9 June, associated with the northeastward propagation of intraseasonal convective anomalies from the western equatorial Indian Ocean. Positive (negative) SAT anomalies during June correspond to a delayed (early) Indian summer monsoon onset and tend to occur during post-El Nino summers. On the interannual time scale, positive SAT anomalies of June over central India are associated with positive SST anomalies over both the equatorial eastern-central Pacific and Indian Oceans, representing El Nino effects in developing and decay years, respectively. Although El Nino peaks in winter, the correlations between winter El Nino and Indian SAT peak in the subsequent June, representing a post-El Nino summer capacitor effect associated with positive SST anomalies over the north Indian Ocean. These results have important implications for the prediction of Indian summer climate including both SAT and summer monsoon onset over central India.

Wang, CY, Xie SP, Kosaka Y.  2018.  Indo-Western Pacific Climate Variability: ENSO Forcing and Internal Dynamics in a Tropical Pacific Pacemaker Simulation. Journal of Climate. 31:10123-10139.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0203.1   AbstractWebsite

El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) peaks in boreal winter but its impact on Indo-western Pacific climate persists for another two seasons. Key ocean-atmosphere interaction processes for the ENSO effect are investigated using the Pacific Ocean-Global Atmosphere (POGA) experiment with a coupled general circulation model, where tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are restored to follow observations while the atmosphere and oceans are fully coupled elsewhere. The POGA shows skills in simulating the ENSO-forced warming of the tropical Indian Ocean and an anomalous anticyclonic circulation pattern over the northwestern tropical Pacific in the post-El Nino spring and summer. The 10-member POGA ensemble allows decomposing Indo-western Pacific variability into the ENSO forced and ENSO-unrelated (internal) components. Internal variability is comparable to the ENSO forcing in magnitude and independent of ENSO amplitude and phase. Random internal variability causes apparent decadal modulations of ENSO correlations over the Indo-western Pacific, which are high during epochs of high ENSO variance. This is broadly consistent with instrumental observations over the past 130 years as documented in recent studies. Internal variability features a sea level pressure pattern that extends into the north Indian Ocean and is associated with coherent SST anomalies from the Arabian Sea to the western Pacific, suggestive of ocean-atmosphere coupling.

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.

Hu, KM, Xie SP, Huang G.  2017.  Orographically Anchored El Nino Effect on Summer Rainfall in Central China. Journal of Climate. 30:10037-10045.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0312.1   AbstractWebsite

Year-to-year variations in summer precipitation have great socioeconomic impacts on China. Historical rainfall variability over China is investigated using a newly released high-resolution dataset. The results reveal summer-mean rainfall anomalies associated with ENSO that are anchored by mountains in central China east of the Tibetan Plateau. These orographically anchored hot spots of ENSO influence are poorly represented in coarse-resolution datasets so far in use. In post-El Nino summers, an anomalous anticyclone forms over the tropical northwest Pacific, and the anomalous southwesterlies on the northwest flank cause rainfall to increase in mountainous central China through orographic lift. At upper levels, the winds induce additional adiabatic updraft by increasing the eastward advection of warm air from Tibet. In post-El Nino summers, large-scale moisture convergence induces rainfall anomalies elsewhere over flat eastern China, which move northward from June to August and amount to little in the seasonal mean.

Kamae, Y, Mei W, Xie SP.  2017.  Climatological relationship between warm season atmospheric rivers and heavy rainfall over East Asia. Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan. 95:411-431.   10.2151/jmsj.2017-027   AbstractWebsite

Eddy transport of atmospheric,ater vapor from the tropics is important for rainfall and related natural disasters in the middle latitudes. Atmospheric rivers (ARs), intense moisture plumes that are typically associated with extratropical cyclones, often produce heavy precipitation upon encountering topography on the west coasts of mid-latitude North America and Europe. ARs also occur over the northwestern Pacific and sometimes cause floods and landslides over East Asia, but the climatological relationship between ARs and heavy rainfall in this region remains unclear. Here we evaluate the contribution of ARs to the hydrological cycle over East Asia using high-resolution daily rainfall observations and an atmospheric reanalysis during 1958-2007. Despite their low occurrence, ARs account for 14-44 % of the total rainfall and 20-90 % of extreme heavy-rainfall events during spring, summer, and autumn. AR-related extreme rainfall is especially pronounced over western-to-southeastern slopes of terrains over the Korean Peninsula and Japan, owing to strong orographic effects and a stable direction of low-level moisture flows. A strong relationship between warm-season AR heavy rainfall and preceding-winter El Nino is identified since the 1970s, suggesting the potential of predicting heavy-rainfall risk over Korea and Japan at seasonal leads.

Yang, JC, Lin XP, Xie SP.  2017.  A Transbasin Mode of Interannual Variability of the Central American Gap Winds: Seasonality and Large-Scale Forcing. Journal of Climate. 30:8223-8235.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0021.1   AbstractWebsite

A transbasin mode (TBM) is identified as the leading mode of interannual surface wind variability over the Intra-Americas Seas across Central America based on empirical orthogonal function analysis. The TBM is associated with variability in Central American gap winds, most closely with the Papagayo jet but with considerable signals over the Gulfs of Tehuantepec and Panama. Although El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the main large-scale forcing, the TBM features a distinct seasonality due to sea level pressure (SLP) adjustments across the Pacific and Atlantic. During July-September, ENSO causes meridional SLP gradient anomalies across Central America, intensifying anomalous geostrophic winds funneling through Papagayo to form the TBM. During wintertime, ENSO peaks but imparts little anomalous SLP gradient across Central America with a weak projection on the TBM because of the competing effects of the Pacific-North American teleconnection and tropospheric Kelvin waves. Besides ENSO, tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature anomalies make a weak contribution to the TBM in boreal summer by strengthening the cross-basin gradient. ENSO and the Atlantic forcing constitute a cross-basin seesaw pattern in SLP, manifested as an anomalous Walker circulation across the tropical Americas. The TBM appears to be part of the low-level branch of the anomalous Walker circulation, which modulates Central American wind jets by orographic effect. This study highlights the seasonality of gap wind variability, and calls for further research into its influence on regional climate.

Li, G, Xie SP, He C, Chen ZS.  2017.  Western Pacific emergent constraint lowers projected increase in Indian summer monsoon rainfall. Nature Climate Change. 7:708-+.   10.1038/nclimate3387   AbstractWebsite

The agrarian-based socioeconomic livelihood of densely populated South Asian countries is vulnerable to modest changes in Indian summer monsoon (ISM) rainfall(1-3). How the ISM rainfall will evolve is a question of broad scientific and socioeconomic importance(3-9). In response to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing, climate models commonly project an increase in ISM rainfall(4-9). This wetter ISM projection, however, does not consider large model errors in both the mean state and ocean warming pattern(9-11). Here we identify a relationship between biases in simulated present climate and future ISM projections in a multi-model ensemble: models with excessive present-day precipitation over the tropical western Pacific tend to project a larger increase in ISM rainfall under GHG forcing because of too strong a negative cloud-radiation feedback on sea surface temperature. The excessive negative feedback suppresses the local ocean surface warming, strengthening ISM rainfall projections via atmospheric circulation. We calibrate the ISM rainfall projections using this 'present-future relationship' and observed western Pacific precipitation. The correction reduces by about 50% of the projected rainfall increase over the broad ISM region. Our study identifies an improved simulation of western Pacific convection as a priority for reliable ISM projections.

Ma, J, Xie SP, Xu HM.  2017.  Intermember variability of the summer northwest Pacific subtropical anticyclone in the ensemble forecast. Journal of Climate. 30:3927-3941.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0638.1   AbstractWebsite

The accurate prediction of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) remains a major challenge for the climate research community. The northwest Pacific (NWP) subtropical anticyclone (NWPSA) is the dominant feature of the EASM low-level circulation variability. This study identifies two coupled modes between intermember anomalies of the NWPSA and sea surface temperature (SST). The first mode features SST anomalies over the tropical Pacific. This tropical Pacific mode has little impact on East Asian climate. The second mode features a strong coupling between SST in the north Indian Ocean (NIO)-NWP and NWPSA, with large impacts on East Asia. This resembles the Indo-western Pacific Ocean capacitor (IPOC) mode of interannual variability. Major differences exist in temporal evolution of the intermember SST spread between the equatorial Pacific and NIO. In the equatorial Pacific, the intermember SST spread grows gradually with lead time, while the spread of SST and low-level zonal wind grow rapidly from May to June in the NIO. The rapid growth over the NIO is due to positive feedback arising from the coupling between intermember anomalies of SST and winds. In post-El Nino summer, the intermember spread in equatorial Pacific SST forecast represents the variations in the timing of the El Nino phase transition. The late decay of El Nino relates to SST cooling and an anomalous cyclonic circulation over the South China Sea (SCS) but with little impact on East Asian climate. Thus, a better representation of the IPOC mode of regional ocean-atmosphere interaction over the NIO-NWP holds the key to improving the reliability of seasonal forecast of East Asian climate.

Xie, SP, Zhou ZQ.  2017.  Seasonal modulations of El Nino-related atmospheric variability: Indo-Western Pacific Ocean feedback. Journal of Climate. 30:3461-3472.   10.1175/jcli-d-16-0713.1   AbstractWebsite

The spatial structure of atmospheric anomalies associated with El Nino-Southern Oscillation varies with season because of the seasonal variations in sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly pattern and in the climatological basic state. The latter effect is demonstrated using an atmospheric model forced with a time-invariant pattern of El Nino warming over the equatorial Pacific. The seasonal modulation is most pronounced over the north Indian Ocean to northwest Pacific where the monsoonal winds vary from northeasterly in winter to southwesterly in summer. Specifically, the constant El Nino run captures the abrupt transition from a summer cyclonic to winter anticyclonic anomalous circulation over the northwest Pacific, in support of the combination mode idea that emphasizes nonlinear interactions of equatorial Pacific SST forcing and the climatological seasonal cycle. In post-El Nino summers when equatorial Pacific warming has dissipated, SST anomalies over the Indo-northwest Pacific Oceans dominate and anchor the coherent persisting anomalous anticyclonic circulation. A conceptual model is presented that incorporates the combination mode in the existing framework of regional Indo-western Pacific Ocean coupling.

Wang, CY, Xie SP, Kosaka Y, Liu QY, Zheng XT.  2017.  Global influence of tropical Pacific variability with implications for global warming slowdown. Journal of Climate. 30:2679-2695.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0496.1   AbstractWebsite

The impact of internal tropical Pacific variability on global mean surface temperature (GMST) is quantified using a multimodel ensemble. A tropical Pacific index (TPI) is defined to track tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability. The simulated GMST is highly correlated with TPI on the interannual time scale but this correlation weakens on the decadal time scale. The time-scale dependency is such that the GMST regression equation derived from the observations, which are dominated by interannual variability, would underestimate the magnitude of decadal GMST response to tropical Pacific variability. The surface air temperature response to tropical Pacific variability is strong in the tropics but weakens in the extratropics. The regression coefficient of GMST against TPI shows considerable intermodel variations, primarily because of differences in high latitudes. The results have important implications for the planned intercomparison of pacemaker experiments that force Pacific variability to follow the observed evolution. The model dependency of the GMST regression suggests that in pacemaker experiments-model performance in simulating the recent "slowdown'' in global warming-will vary substantially among models. It also highlights the need to develop observational constraints and to quantify the TPI effect on the decadal variability of GMST. Compared to GMST, the correlation between global mean tropospheric temperature and TPI is high on both interannual and decadal time scales because of a common structure in the tropical tropospheric temperature response that is upward amplified and meridionally broad.

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.

Xie, SP, Kosaka Y, Du Y, Hu KM, Chowdary J, Huang G.  2016.  Indo-western Pacific ocean capacitor and coherent climate anomalies in post-ENSO summer: A review. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. 33:411-432.   10.1007/s00376-015-5192-6   AbstractWebsite

ENSO induces coherent climate anomalies over the Indo-western Pacific, but these anomalies outlast SST anomalies of the equatorial Pacific by a season, with major effects on the Asian summer monsoon. This review provides historical accounts of major milestones and synthesizes recent advances in the endeavor to understand summer variability over the Indo-Northwest Pacific region. Specifically, a large-scale anomalous anticyclone (AAC) is a recurrent pattern in post-El NiEeno summers, spanning the tropical Northwest Pacific and North Indian oceans. Regarding the ocean memory that anchors the summer AAC, competing hypotheses emphasize either SST cooling in the easterly trade wind regime of the Northwest Pacific or SST warming in the westerly monsoon regime of the North Indian Ocean. Our synthesis reveals a coupled ocean-atmosphere mode that builds on both mechanisms in a two-stage evolution. In spring, when the northeast trades prevail, the AAC and Northwest Pacific cooling are coupled via wind-evaporation-SST feedback. The Northwest Pacific cooling persists to trigger a summer feedback that arises from the interaction of the AAC and North Indian Ocean warming, enabled by the westerly monsoon wind regime. This Indo-western Pacific ocean capacitor (IPOC) effect explains why El Nino stages its last act over the monsoonal Indo-Northwest Pacific and casts the Indian Ocean warming and AAC in leading roles. The IPOC displays interdecadal modulations by the ENSO variance cycle, significantly correlated with ENSO at the turn of the 20th century and after the 1970s, but not in between. Outstanding issues, including future climate projections, are also discussed.

Kubota, H, Kosaka Y, Xie SP.  2016.  A 117-year long index of the Pacific-Japan pattern with application to interdecadal variability. International Journal of Climatology. 36:1575-1589.   10.1002/joc.4441   AbstractWebsite

The Pacific-Japan (PJ) pattern affects interannual variability in the East Asian and western North Pacific (WNP) summer monsoons. This teleconnection pattern is characterized by a meridional dipole of anomalous circulation and precipitation between the tropical WNP and the midlatitudes. This study develops a long index of the PJ pattern using station-based atmospheric pressure data to track the PJ variability from 1897 to 2013. This index is correlated with a wide array of climate variables including air temperature, precipitation, Yangtze River flow, Japanese rice yield and the occurrence of tropical cyclones over the WNP (especially those that make landfall on the Chinese and Korean coast). For the recent three decades, the PJ index reproduces well-known correlations with El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the preceding boreal winter and Indian Ocean temperature in the concurrent summer. For the 117-year period, this ENSO-PJ relationship varies on interdecadal time scales, with low correlations in the 1920s and from the 1940s to 1970s, and recurrences of significant correlations at the beginning of the 20th century and the 1930s. In accordance with the modulation, the magnitude and regional climate effect of the PJ variability have changed. These results highlight the importance of interdecadal modulations of climate anomalies in the summer WNP and the need of long-term observations to study such modulations.

Liu, W, Xie SP, Lu J.  2016.  Tracking ocean heat uptake during the surface warming hiatus. Nature Communications. 7   10.1038/ncomms10926   AbstractWebsite

Ocean heat uptake is observed to penetrate deep into the Atlantic and Southern Oceans during the recent hiatus of global warming. Here we show that the deep heat penetration in these two basins is not unique to the hiatus but is characteristic of anthropogenic warming and merely reflects the depth of the mean meridional overturning circulation in the basin. We find, however, that heat redistribution in the upper 350m between the Pacific and Indian Oceans is closely tied to the surface warming hiatus. The Indian Ocean shows an anomalous warming below 50m during hiatus events due to an enhanced heat transport by the Indonesian throughflow in response to the intensified trade winds in the equatorial Pacific. Thus, the Pacific and Indian Oceans are the key regions to track ocean heat uptake during the surface warming hiatus.

Xie, SP, Kosaka Y, Okumura YM.  2016.  Distinct energy budgets for anthropogenic and natural changes during global warming hiatus. Nature Geoscience. 9:29-+.   10.1038/ngeo2581   AbstractWebsite

The Earth's energy budget for the past four decades can now be closed(1), and it supports anthropogenic greenhouse forcing as the cause for climate warming. However, closure depends on invoking an unrealistically large increase in aerosol cooling(2) during the so-called global warming hiatus since the late 1990s (refs 3,4) that was due partly to tropical Pacific Ocean cooling(5-7). The difficulty with this closure lies in the assumption that the same climate feedback applies to both anthropogenic warming and natural cooling. Here we analyse climate model simulations with and without anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gas concentrations, and show that top-of-the-atmosphere radiation and global mean surface temperature are much less tightly coupled for natural decadal variability than for the greenhouse-gas-induced response, implying distinct climate feedback between anthropogenic warming and natural variability. In addition, we identify a phase difference between top-of-the-atmosphere radiation and global mean surface temperature such that ocean heat uptake tends to slow down during the surface warming hiatus. This result deviates from existing energy theory but we find that it is broadly consistent with observations. Our study highlights the importance of developing metrics that distinguish anthropogenic change from natural variations to attribute climate variability and to estimate climate sensitivity from observations.

Yang, Y, Xie SP, Wu LX, Kosaka Y, Lau NC, Vecchi GA.  2015.  Seasonality and predictability of the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode: ENSO forcing and internal variability. Journal of Climate. 28:8021-8036.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0078.1   AbstractWebsite

This study evaluates the relative contributions to the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) mode of interannual variability from the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forcing and ocean-atmosphere feedbacks internal to the Indian Ocean. The ENSO forcing and internal variability is extracted by conducting a 10-member coupled simulation for 1950-2012 where sea surface temperature (SST) is restored to the observed anomalies over the tropical Pacific but interactive with the atmosphere over the rest of the World Ocean. In these experiments, the ensemble mean is due to ENSO forcing and the intermember difference arises from internal variability of the climate system independent of ENSO. These elements contribute one-third and two-thirds of the total IOD variance, respectively. Both types of IOD variability develop into an east-west dipole pattern because of Bjerknes feedback and peak in September-November. The ENSO forced and internal IOD modes differ in several important ways. The forced IOD mode develops in August with a broad meridional pattern and eventually evolves into the Indian Ocean basin mode, while the internal IOD mode grows earlier in June, is more confined to the equator, and decays rapidly after October. The internal IOD mode is more skewed than the ENSO forced response. The destructive interference of ENSO forcing and internal variability can explain early terminating IOD events, referred to as IOD-like perturbations that fail to grow during boreal summer. The results have implications for predictability. Internal variability, as represented by preseason sea surface height anomalies off Sumatra, contributes to predictability considerably. Including this indicator of internal variability, together with ENSO, improves the predictability of IOD.

Li, G, Xie SP, Du Y.  2015.  Climate model errors over the South Indian Ocean thermocline dome and their effect on the basin mode of interannual variability. Journal of Climate. 28:3093-3098.   10.1175/jcli-d-14-00810.1   AbstractWebsite

An open-ocean thermocline dome south of the equator is a striking feature of the Indian Ocean (IO) as a result of equatorial westerly winds. Over the thermocline dome, the El Nino-forced Rossby waves help sustain the IO basin (IOB) mode and offer climate predictability for the IO and surrounding countries. This study shows that a common equatorial easterly wind bias, by forcing a westward-propagating downwelling Rossby wave in the southern IO, induces too deep a thermocline dome over the southwestern IO (SWIO) in state-of-the-art climate models. Such a deep SWIO thermocline weakens the influence of subsurface variability on sea surface temperature (SST), reducing the IOB amplitude and possibly limiting the models' skill of regional climate prediction. To the extent that the equatorial easterly wind bias originates from errors of the South Asian summer monsoon, improving the monsoon simulation can lead to substantial improvements in simulating and predicting interannual variability in the IO.

Chikamoto, Y, Timmermann A, Luo JJ, Mochizuki T, Kimoto M, Watanabe M, Ishii M, Xie SP, Jin FF.  2015.  Skilful multi-year predictions of tropical trans-basin climate variability. Nature Communications. 6   10.1038/ncomms7869   AbstractWebsite

Tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies influence the atmospheric circulation, impacting climate far beyond the tropics. The predictability of the corresponding atmospheric signals is typically limited to less than 1 year lead time. Here we present observational and modelling evidence for multi-year predictability of coherent trans-basin climate variations that are characterized by a zonal seesaw in tropical sea surface temperature and sea-level pressure between the Pacific and the other two ocean basins. State-of-the-art climate model forecasts initialized from a realistic ocean state show that the low-frequency trans-basin climate variability, which explains part of the El Nino Southern Oscillation flavours, can be predicted up to 3 years ahead, thus exceeding the predictive skill of current tropical climate forecasts for natural variability. This low-frequency variability emerges from the synchronization of ocean anomalies in all basins via global reorganizations of the atmospheric Walker Circulation.

Feng, M, Hendon HH, Xie SP, Marshall AG, Schiller A, Kosaka Y, Caputi N, Pearce A.  2015.  Decadal increase in Ningaloo Nino since the late 1990s. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:104-112.   10.1002/2014gl062509   AbstractWebsite

Ningaloo Nino refers to the episodic occurrence of anomalously warm ocean conditions along the subtropical coast of Western Australia (WA). Ningaloo Nino typically develops in austral spring, peaks in summer, and decays in autumn, and it often occurs in conjunction with La Nina conditions in the Pacific which promote poleward transport of warm tropical waters by the Leeuwin Current. Since the late 1990s, there has been a marked increase in the occurrence of Ningaloo Nino, which is likely related to the recent swing to the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and enhanced El Nino-Southern Oscillation variance since 1970s. The swing to the negative IPO sustains positive heat content anomalies and initiates more frequent cyclonic wind anomalies off the WA coast so favoring enhanced poleward heat transport by the Leeuwin Current. The anthropogenically forced global warming has made it easier for natural variability to drive extreme ocean temperatures in the region.

Richter, I, Behera SK, Doi T, Taguchi B, Masumoto Y, Xie SP.  2014.  What controls equatorial Atlantic winds in boreal spring? Climate Dynamics. 43:3091-3104.   10.1007/s00382-014-2170-0   AbstractWebsite

The factors controlling equatorial Atlantic winds in boreal spring are examined using both observations and general circulation model (GCM) simulations from the coupled model intercomparison phase 5. The results show that the prevailing surface easterlies flow against the attendant pressure gradient and must therefore be maintained by other terms in the momentum budget. An important contribution comes from meridional advection of zonal momentum but the dominant contribution is the vertical transport of zonal momentum from the free troposphere to the surface. This implies that surface winds are strongly influenced by conditions in the free troposphere, chiefly pressure gradients and, to a lesser extent, meridional advection. Both factors are linked to the patterns of deep convection. Applying these findings to GCM errors indicates, that, consistent with the results of previous studies, the persistent westerly surface wind bias found in most GCMs is due mostly to precipitation errors, in particular excessive precipitation south of the equator over the ocean and deficient precipitation over equatorial South America. Free tropospheric influences also dominate the interannual variability of surface winds in boreal spring. GCM experiments with prescribed climatological sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) indicate that the free tropospheric influences are mostly associated with internal atmospheric variability. Since the surface wind anomalies in boreal spring are crucial to the development of warm SST events (Atlantic Ninos), the results imply that interannual variability in the region may rely far less on coupled air-sea feedbacks than is the case in the tropical Pacific.

Liu, L, Xie SP, Zheng XT, Li T, Du Y, Huang G, Yu WD.  2014.  Indian Ocean variability in the CMIP5 multi-model ensemble: the zonal dipole mode. Climate Dynamics. 43:1715-1730.   10.1007/s00382-013-2000-9   AbstractWebsite

The performance of 21 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models in the simulation of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) mode is evaluated. Compared to CMIP3, CMIP5 models exhibit a similar spread in IOD intensity. A detailed diagnosis was carried out to understand whether CMIP5 models have shown improvement in their representation of the important dynamical and thermodynamical feedbacks in the tropical Indian Ocean. These include the Bjerknes dynamic air-sea feedback, which includes the equatorial zonal wind response to sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly, the thermocline response to equatorial zonal wind forcing, the ocean subsurface temperature response to the thermocline variations, and the thermodynamic air-sea coupling that includes the wind-evaporation-SST and cloud-radiation-SST feedback. Compared to CMIP3, the CMIP5 ensemble produces a more realistic positive wind-evaporation-SST feedback during the IOD developing phase, while the simulation of Bjerknes dynamic feedback is more unrealistic especially with regard to the wind response to SST forcing and the thermocline response to surface wind forcing. The overall CMIP5 performance in the IOD simulation does not show remarkable improvements compared to CMIP3. It is further noted that the El Nio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and IOD amplitudes are closely related, if a model generates a strong ENSO, it is likely that this model also simulates a strong IOD.

Kang, SM, Held IM, Xie SP.  2014.  Contrasting the tropical responses to zonally asymmetric extratropical and tropical thermal forcing. Climate Dynamics. 42:2033-2043.   10.1007/s00382-013-1863-0   AbstractWebsite

The mechanism is investigated by which extratropical thermal forcing with a finite zonal extent produces global impact. The goal is to understand the near-global response to a weakened Atlantic meridional overturning circulation suggested by paleoclimate data and modeling studies. An atmospheric model coupled to an aquaplanet slab mixed layer ocean, in which the unperturbed climate is zonally symmetric, is perturbed by prescribing cooling of the mixed layer in the Northern Hemisphere and heating of equal magnitude in the Southern Hemisphere, over some finite range of longitudes. In the case of heating/cooling confined to the extratropics, the zonally asymmetric forcing is homogenized by midlatitude westerlies and extratropical eddies before passing on to the tropics, inducing a zonally symmetric tropical response. In addition, the zonal mean responses vary little as the zonal extent of the forced region is changed, holding the zonal mean heating fixed, implying little impact of stationary eddies on the zonal mean. In contrast, when the heating/cooling is confined to the tropics, the zonally asymmetric forcing produces a highly localized response with slight westward extension, due to advection by mean easterly trade winds. Regardless of the forcing location, neither the spatial structure nor the zonal mean responses are strongly affected by wind-evaporation-sea surface temperature feedback.

Zinke, J, Rountrey A, Feng M, Xie SP, Dissard D, Rankenburg K, Lough JM, McCulloch MT.  2014.  Corals record long-term Leeuwin current variability including Ningaloo Nino/Nina since 1795. Nature Communications. 5   10.1038/ncomms4607   AbstractWebsite

Variability of the Leeuwin current (LC) off Western Australia is a footprint of interannual and decadal climate variations in the tropical Indo-Pacific. La Nina events often result in a strengthened LC, high coastal sea levels and unusually warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs), termed Ningaloo Nino. The rarity of such extreme events and the response of the southeastern Indian Ocean to regional and remote climate forcing are poorly understood owing to the lack of long-term records. Here we use well-replicated coral SST records from within the path of the LC, together with a reconstruction of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation to hindcast historical SST and LC strength from 1795 to 2010. We show that interannual and decadal variations in SST and LC strength characterized the past 215 years and that the most extreme sea level and SST anomalies occurred post 1980. These recent events were unprecedented in severity and are likely aided by accelerated global ocean warming and sea-level rise.

Li, JB, Xie SP, Cook ER.  2014.  El Nino phases embedded in Asian and North American drought reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews. 85:20-34.   10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.11.014   AbstractWebsite

The amplitude of El Nil-ID-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) varies substantially at each phase of its evolution, affecting the timing and patterns of atmospheric teleconnections around the globe. Instrumental records are too short to capture the full behavior of ENSO variability. Here we use the well-validated Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas (MADA) and North America Drought Atlas (NADA) for the past 700 years, and show that tree-ring records from different regions represent tropical sea surface temperature (SST) conditions at various phases of ENSO. Three modes of tree-ring based summer drought variability are found to be correlated with ENSO: summer droughts over the Maritime Continent and Southwest North America (NA), and a dipole mode between Central and South Asia. A lagged correlation analysis is performed to determine the time when precipitation and temperature anomaly imprints on summer droughts as recorded in tree-rings. Drought anomalies in the Maritime Continent and Southwest NA represent ENSO at the developing and peak phases respectively, while those over Central/South Asia are associated with tropical-wide SST anomalies (including the Indian Ocean) at the decay phase of ENSO. Thus proxy records from different regions can provide valuable information on long-term behavior of ENSO at different phases. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.