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Robust contribution of decadal anomalies to the frequency of central-Pacific El Niño
Sullivan, A.; Luo, J.-J.; Hirst, A.C.; Bi, D.; Cai, W.; He, J. (2016). Robust contribution of decadal anomalies to the frequency of central-Pacific El Niño. NPG Scientific Reports 6(38540): 7 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Sullivan, A.
  • Luo, J.-J.
  • Hirst, A.C.
  • Bi, D.
  • Cai, W.
  • He, J.

    During year-to-year El Niño events in recent decades, major sea surface warming has occurred frequently in the central Pacific. This is distinct from the eastern Pacific warming pattern during canonical El Niño events. Accordingly, the central-Pacific El Niño exerts distinct impacts on ecosystems, climate and hurricanes worldwide. The increased frequency of the new type of El Niño presents a challenge not only for the understanding of El Niño dynamics and its change but also for the prediction of El Niño and its global impacts at present and future climate. Previous studies have proposed different indices to represent the two types of El Niño for better understanding, prediction and impact assessment. Here, we find that all popularly used indices for the central-Pacific El Niño show a dominant spectral peak at a decadal period with comparatively weak variance at interannual timescales. Our results suggest that decadal anomalies have an important contribution to the occurrence of the central-Pacific El Niño over past decades. Removing the decadal component leads to a significant reduction in the frequency of the central-Pacific El Niño in observations and in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 simulations of preindustrial, historical and future climate.

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