a EP-EL Niño 20º N 10º N 10º S b CP-EL Niño 20º N 10º S - PDF

Vol 46 4 September 9 doi:.38/nature836 LETTERS El Niño in a changing climate Sang-Wook Yeh, Jong-Seong Kug, Boris Dewitte, Min-Ho Kwon 3, Ben P. Kirtman 4 & Fei-Fei Jin 3 El Niño events, characterized

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Vol 46 4 September 9 doi:.38/nature836 LETTERS El Niño in a changing climate Sang-Wook Yeh, Jong-Seong Kug, Boris Dewitte, Min-Ho Kwon 3, Ben P. Kirtman 4 & Fei-Fei Jin 3 El Niño events, characterized by anomalous warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, have global climatic teleconnections and are the most dominant feature of cyclic climate variability on subdecadal timescales. Understanding changes in the frequency or characteristics of El Niño events in a changing climate is therefore of broad scientific and socioeconomic interest. Recent studies show that the canonical El Niño has become less frequent and that a different kind of El Niño has become more common during the late twentieth century, in which warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central Pacific are flanked on the east and west by cooler SSTs. This type of El Niño, termed the central Pacific El Niño (CP-El Niño; also termed the dateline El Niño, El Niño Modoki 3 or warm pool El Niño ), differs from the canonical eastern Pacific El Niño (EP-El Niño) in both the location of maximum SST anomalies and tropical midlatitude teleconnections. Here we show changes in the ratio of CP-El Niño to EP-El Niño under projected global warming scenarios from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 multi-model data set 6. Using calculations based on historical El Niño indices, we find that projections of anthropogenic climate change are associated with an increased frequency of the CP-El Niño compared to the EP-El Niño. When restricted to the six climate models with the best representation of the twentieth-century ratio of CP-El Niño to EP-El Niño, the occurrence ratio of CP-El Niño/EP-El Niño is projected to increase as much as five times under global warming. The change is related to a flattening of the thermocline in the equatorial Pacific. El Niño statistics exhibits variations on decadal timescales 7. For instance, the properties of El Niño exhibited frequency and amplitude changes before and after the late 97s. During the late 99s and s, on the other hand, El Niño events show different characteristics in terms of location of maximum anomalous SST compared to the conventional El Niño. For instance, a prolonged El Niño event during the period of , showed that, in the conventional El Niño region (the far eastern Pacific), the SST anomaly has waxed and waned, while the SST anomaly in the NINO4 region (6u E u W, u N u S) remained positive. Other recent studies also argued that there exists a phenomenon in the tropical Pacific that is distinctly different from the canonical El Niño this variation of El Niño has a horseshoe spatial pattern, flanked by a colder SST on both sides along the Equator. These studies led to various definitions of a new type of El Niño: the dateline El Niño, the El Niño Modoki 3, the central Pacific El Niño 4 and the warm pool El Niño. The El Niño Modoki was named to represent the phenomenon in 4 that had a maximum SST anomaly in the central tropical Pacific, differing from the conventional El Niño 3. In addition, such modification in the structure of El Niño has implications for its teleconnection pattern in many countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean,3,4. These observations raise the question of whether human-induced global warming can modify our conventional view of El Niño. We use the historical El Niño indices (the NINO3 SST index and the NINO4 SST index) and the Extended Reconstruction SST data for 84 7 to distinguish two variations of El Niño during the boreal winter (December-January-February, DJF). We term these the eastern Pacific El Niño (EP-El Niño) and the central Pacific El Niño (CP-El Niño). These terms have previously been used but with different definitions 4. Here the terms EP-El Niño and CP-El Niño refer to the years in which the EP-El Niño and the CP-El Niño occurred during winter. Since the 8s (Supplementary Table ) the EP-El Niño occurred 3 times and the CP-El Niño occurred 7 times. a EP-EL Niño º N º S.6 º S º E º E 8º º W º W 9º W b CP-EL Niño º N º S º S º E º E 8º º W º W 9º W c º E º E 8º º W º W 9º W CP-EI Niño EP-EI Niño Figure Deviations of mean SST for the two characteristics of El Niño from the 84 6 climatology. a, The EP-El Niño; b, the CP-El Niño. The contour interval is uc and shading denotes a statistical confidence at 9% confidence level based on a Student s t-test. c, The zonal structure for the composite EP-El Niño (thin line) and CP-El Niño (thick line) averaged over un tous. Climate Change and Coastal Disaster Research Department, Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, , Ansan, Korea. Laboratoire d Etude en Geophysique et Oceanographie Spatiale, 4 avenue Edouard Belin, 34, Toulouse, France. 3 Department of Meteorology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, 68 East-West Road, Honolulu, 968, Hawaii, USA. 4 University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 46 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida, 3349, USA. 9 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved LETTERS NATURE Vol 46 4 September 9 Although the number of CP-El Niño events is relatively small, its frequency increased noticeably after 99. For the period of 84 7, the occurrence ratio of the EP-El Niño before and after 99 is.9 per year and 9 per year, respectively, whereas that of the CP-El Niño before and after 99 is. per year and 9 per year, respectively. Simply put, this result indicates that anomalous warm SSTs in the central equatorial Pacific (that is, CP-El Niño) has been observed more frequently during recent decades 3. This result is detectable even if the data are detrended (Supplementary Table ) and taken from two additional SST data sets (Supplementary Table 3). A profound change in the characteristics of El Niño in recent years is also detectable in an -year window sliding correlation coefficients between the two NINO indices (Supplementary Fig. ). Figure a and b displays the deviation of mean SST for the EP-El Niño and the CP-El Niño from the climatological mean SST (84 6). As expected, the EP-El Niño (Fig. a) is characterized by maximum anomalous SST in the eastern equatorial Pacific; on the other hand, the centre of maximum SST in the CP-El Niño (Fig. b) is located near the dateline in the central equatorial Pacific. The SST composite in Fig. b is similar to the previously defined new type of El Niño in spite of an extension of the analysed period and the use of the simple definition of the historical El Niño indices. Figure c clearly indicates that the centre of maximum SST of the CP-El Niño is significantly shifted to the west compared to that of the EP-El Niño. The details of the new type of El Niño suggested by previous studies differ slightly from those of the CP-El Niño described here but the overall characteristics are similar. The large difference of anomalous mean SST between the two types of El Niño results in changes in the total SST pattern in the tropical Pacific (not shown here), which determines the atmospheric response 6. Figure a and b displays the composite rainfall corresponding to the EP-El Niño and the CP-El Niño. For the EP-El Niño (Fig. a), the centre of maximum anomalous rainfall is observed around the dateline; for the CP-El Niño (Fig. b) it is shifted westward to around 6u E. It is clear that anomalous rainfall is largely enhanced in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and reduced in the western equatorial Pacific during the EP-El Niño compared to the CP-El Niño. Changes in the atmospheric diabatic forcing over the tropics have the potential to modify the tropical midlatitude teleconnections to the El Niño 7,8. Therefore, we would expect the midlatitude response to the EP-El Niño to differ from that of the CP-El Niño, and this has been shown to be true during the last 3 years 4. This is evident from the patterns for anomalous mean atmospheric circulation at hpa in the northern extratropics even over the extended period studied here (Fig. c and d) and anomalous mean SST and low-level winds (9 hpa) in the North Pacific (Fig. e and f) associated with both types of El Niño. The most striking difference in the teleconnection pattern between the two types of El Niño is in the position of the principal atmospheric centres of action in the extratropics (Fig. c and d). In addition, the anomalous North Pacific SST in response to the EP-El Niño and the CP-El Niño is also significantly different (Fig. e and f). The spatial manifestation of anomalous SST associated with the EP-El Niño (Fig. e) is characterized by cool temperatures in the central North Pacific with an elliptical shape and is accompanied by SST anomalies of the opposite sign to the east, north and south. In contrast to the EP-El Niño, anomalous easterly winds dominate over the central and eastern North Pacific, which may induce anomalous warm SSTs (Fig. f). The low-level winds during both types of El Niño are reasonably consistent with the wind SST interactions in the midlatitudes 9. Because El Niño and its teleconnections have dramatic societal impacts, such results call for an examination of the El Niño as simulated by the climate models under climate change projections. Here, we examine eleven coupled general circulation models (CGCMs): eleven control runs and eleven climate change runs (Supplementary Table 4). The control run is the twentieth-century climate change model simulation to year with anthropogenic and natural forcing (that is, C3M). The climate change run corresponds to a EP-EL Niño b CP-EL Niño º N º N º S º S º S º S º E º E 8 º W º W 9º W º E º E 8 º W º W 9º W Rainfall c d 8º N 8º N 3 6º N 6º N 4º N 4 3 4º N 9º E º E º E 8 º W º W 9º W 6º W 9º E º E º E 8 º W º W 9º W 6º W Height e f 6º N 6º N SST and wind º N 4º N 3º N º E. º N º N º N.. º E 8 º W º W º E º E 8 º W º W 3 m s 3 m s Figure Deviations for the two characteristics of El Niño from their climatology. a, b, The deviation of mean rainfall for the EP-El Niño(a) and the CP-El Niño(b). The contour interval is mm per day. c, d,mean geopotential height at hpa. The contour interval is m. e, f, Mean winds at 9 hpa (arrows, see scale arrow below) and mean SST (line). The solid 9 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved (dotted) line denotes positive (negative) deviations from the mean. The contour interval is. uc. Shading in all panels indicates the region exceeding 9% significance based on a t-test and the zero line is denoted by the thick line. The climatology periods are (for rainfall), 9 6 (for geopotential height and winds) and 84 6 (for SST), respectively. NATURE Vol 46 4 September 9 LETTERS the Special Report for Emission Scenario AB climate change projection (that is, SRESAB). Here, C3M run refers to data from the -years simulation period for the C3M run. The term SRESAB run refers to the last years of the SRESAB run, in which the concentration of CO is fixed to about 7 p.p.m. We show the ensemble mean composite of the EP-El Niño and the CP-El Niño in the C3M run and the SRESAB run, respectively (Supplementary Figs and 3). Figure 3 displays the occurrence ratio of the CP-El Niño and EP-El Niño between the control run and the SRESAB run. Despite the fact that there are discrepancies among CGCMs, it is remarkable that, in eight of models, the occurrence ratio of the CP-El Niño versus the EP-El Niño increases from the C3M run to the SRESAB run. The ensemble mean result for the eleven CGCMs is statistically significant at the 9% confidence level based on the bootstrap method. Furthermore, we test whether the ratio change in each CGCM is significant. The ratio of CP-El Niño to EP-El Niño significantly increases in four of CGCMs at the 9% confidence level, and no other CGCMs show a significant decrease of the occurrence ratio of CP-El Niño to EP-El Niño. Statistical evidence for the increase of CP-El Niño under global warming becomes much stronger when we select the six CGCMs that most realistically capture the occurrence ratio of CP-El Niño to EP-El Niño in the C3M run compared to observations (see Supplementary Information). Thus, climate change projections indicate that the CP-El Niño occurs more frequently compared to the EP- El Niño. We also show how the SST variability changes from the C3M run to the SRESAB run in the UKMO-HadCM3 model (Supplementary Fig. 4). We may hypothesize that more frequent CP-El Niño occurrence during recent decades is associated with an anthropogenic climate change. Such changes in El Niño characteristics in future climate are significant enough to modify the tropics extratropics teleconnection pattern (Supplementary Fig. ) despite the ability of current models realistically to simulate teleconnections. Furthermore, we expect that such frequent CP-El Niño occurrence under global warming could lead to more effective forcing of drought over India 3,3, and Australia. Because El Niño dynamics is tightly linked to equatorial ocean mean state, we argue that such frequent CP-El Niño occurrence is associated with change in the background state under anthropogenic log [CP El Niño/EP El Niño occurrence ratio].. CGCM3.(T47) CNRM CM3 GFDL CM. GFDL CM. FGOALS g. INM CM3. MIROC3.(medres) C3M UKMO HadCM3 MRI CGCM.3. PCM SRESAB UKMO HadGEM Ensemble mean Figure 3 The CP-El Niño/EP-El Niño occurrence ratio. Red bars, the C3M run; blue bars, the SRESAB run. The vertical error bars denote the upper and lower limits associated with an increase and decrease of the CP-El Niño/EP-El Niño occurrence ratio at the 9% confidence level in the C3M run, respectively, based on a bootstrap method. Therefore, there is a significant increase (decrease) of the ratio of the CP-El Niño to the EP-El Niño from the C3M run to the SRESAB run when the blue bar is above (below) the upper (lower) limit of the vertical segment. The y-axis scale is a common logarithmic scale. Depth (m) 9 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved C3M ensemble SRESAB ensemble 6º E 8 6º W 4º W º W º W Figure 4 The ensemble mean thermocline depth. The red line denotes the C3M ensemble and the blue line denotes the SRESAB run in the nine CGCMs: thecgcm3.(t47), the CNRM-CM3, the GFDL-CM., the GFDL-CM., the FGOALS-g., the MIROC3.(medres), the MRI- CGCM.3., the PCM and the UKMO-HadCM3. In both runs, the thermocline depth is defined as the depth of the isotherm of the averaged value of temperatures where the vertical gradient of temperature is a maximum along the Equator. The blue data points indicate that the change in the mean thermocline depth from the C3M run to the SRESAB run is significant at the 9% confidence level, based on a t-test. global warming, in particular change in the thermocline structure in the equatorial Pacific. Figure 4 displays the change in mean thermocline depth from the control run to the SRESAB run. The mean thermocline has risen under global warming in the westerncentral Pacific, whereas it is slightly deeper in the far eastern Pacific. This results in an overall flattening of the equatorial mean thermocline, which is consistent with a weakened atmospheric Walker circulation and trade winds under global warming 3 and even changes in the thermocline depth during recent decades 3. In other words, the SST warms as a result of thermal forcing, which leads to weaker easterlies and enhanced poleward Sverdrup transport and hence a shoaling of the thermocline depth. How might this affect the stability of the CP-El Niño? We can understand this destabilizing process in terms of the two important feedback processes associated with El Niño dynamics, that is, thermocline feedback versus zonal advective feedback. Although the trade winds reduce under global warming, this reduces upwelling and thus the thermocline feedback. In contrast, a shallower thermocline in the central Pacific, as in the SRESAB run, tends to enhance the SST anomaly induced by vertical advection there (because isotherm vertical displacements within the thermocline depth can more easily influence the SST). In addition, such a shallowing thermocline tends to dominate the zonal advective feedback in the central Pacific, which may promote a more intense CP-El Niño,,4. Overall, the change in thermocline structure from the CM3 run to the SRESAB run is consistent with the increased variability of the SST anomaly in the central Pacific. This physical consistency fits with the result reported here: the probable increased occurrence of the CP-El Niño under global warming. METHODS SUMMARY The two kinds of El Nino were diagnosed from observations and eleven models of the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI). We propose a classification based on the historical NINO3 and NINO4 SST indices during winter and inferred from composite analyses to distinguish the CP-El Niño from the EP-El Niño. Applied to the simulation for the present (C3M) and for the future (SRESAB), we derived a projection of the occurrence ratio of CP-El Niño to EP-El Niño. See the Supplementary Information. Full Methods and any associated references are available in the online version of the paper at Received 9 December 8; accepted July 9.. Latif, M., Kleeman, R. & Eckert, C. Greenhouse warming, decadal variability, or El Niño? An attempt to understand the anomalous 99s. J. Clim., 39 (997). 3 LETTERS NATURE Vol 46 4 September 9. Larkin, N. K. & Harrison, D. E. Global seasonal temperature and precipitation anomalies during El Niño autumn and winter. Geophys. Res. Lett. 3, L37, doi:.9/gl738 (). 3. Ashok, K., Behera, S. K., Rao, S. A., Weng, H. & Yamagata, T. El Niño Modoki and its possible teleconnection. J. Geophys. Res., C7, doi:.9/ 6JC3798 (7). 4. Kao, H.-Y. & Yu, J.-Y. Contrasting Eastern-Pacific and Central-Pacific types of ENSO. J. Clim., 6 63 (9).. Kug, J.-S., Jin, F.-F. & An, S.-I. Two types of El Niño events: cold tongue El Niño and warm pool El Niño. J. Clim., 499 (9). 6. Meehl, G. A. et al. The WCRP CMIP3 multimodel dataset. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 88, (7). 7. Trenberth, K. & Shea, D. J. On the evolution of the Southern Oscillation. Mon. Weath. Rev., (987). 8. Cobb, K., Charles, C., Cheng, H. & Edwards, R. El Niño/Southern Oscillation and tropical Pacific climate during the last millennium. Nature 44, 7 76 (3). 9. An, S.-I. & Jin, F.-F. Nonlinearity and asymmetry of ENSO. J. Clim. 7, (4).. An, S.-I. & Wang, B. Interdecadal change of the structure of the ENSO mode and its impact on the ENSO frequency. J. Clim. 3, 44 ().. Rasmusson, E. M. & Carpenter, T. H. Variations in tropical sea surface temperature and surface wind fields associated with the southern oscillation/el Niño. Mon. Weath. Rev., (98).. Trenberth, K. E. & Stepaniak, D. P. Indices of El Nino evolution. J. Clim. 4, (). 3. Weng, H., Ashok, K., Behera, S. K., Rao, S. A. & Yamagata, T. Impacts of recent El Nino Modoki on dry/wet conditions in the Pacific Rim during boreal summer. Clim. Dyn. 9, 3 9 (7). 4. Weng, H., Behera, S. K. & Yamagata, T. Anomalous winter climate conditions in the Pacific Rim during recent El Niño Modoki and El Niño events. Clim. Dyn. 3, (9).. Solomon, S, et al. (eds) Climate Change 7: The Physical Science Basis (Cambridge University Press for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 7). 6. Hoerling, M. P. & Kumar, A. Atmospheric response patterns associated with tropical forcing. J. Clim., 84 3 (). 7. Alexander, M. et al. The atmospheric bridge: The influence of ENSO teleconnections on air-sea interaction over the global oceans. J. Clim., 8 (). 8. Barsugli, J. & Sardeshmukh, P. D. Global atmospheric sensitivity to tropical SST anomalies throughout the Indo-Pacific basin. J. 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