skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Impact of Lateral Mixing in the Ocean on El Nino in a Suite of Fully Coupled Climate Models

Abstract

We examine the dependence of the amplitude of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the mixing coefficient parameterizing the lateral mixing of tracers (A Redi) The value of this coefficient is very uncertain, ranging in Earth System Models between a few hundred and a few thousand m 2 s –1, with some observational estimates showing even higher values. A suite of simulations is made with two spatially varying distributions of A Redi derived from satellite observations as well as four simulations where a spatially constant A Redi is varied over a factor of 6. Surprisingly, larger values of A Redi result in stronger ENSO variability despite the higher mixing coefficients producing more efficient lateral diffusive damping of anomalies. This is because lateral mixing also warms the cold tongue, increasing vertical temperature gradients and decreasing horizontal temperature gradients. Larger vertical temperature gradients make sea surface temperatures more responsive to atmospheric forcing, while smaller horizontal temperature gradients shift the location of convection and make the atmosphere more responsive to sea surface temperature anomalies. The last effect holds across simulations as well as within individual simulations and thus also helps to explain interdecadal variability in ENSO amplitude. By contrast, a previously proposed anticorrelationmore » between the amplitude interannual and annual variability does not hold across simulations, although it does hold within simulations. The propagation of thermocline depth anomalies is relatively insensitive to the value of A Redi. Properly specifying the lateral mixing along the equator (including distinguishing the impacts of subgridscale turbulence and tropical instability waves) appears essential to simulating ENSO.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD (United States)
  2. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1408245
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1408248; OSTI ID: 1511478
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0007066
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 1942-2466
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; El Nino; mesoscale mixing; coupled modeling; eddy diffusion

Citation Formats

Gnanadesikan, Anand, Russell, Alexandria, Pradal, Marie -Aude, and Abernathey, Ryan. Impact of Lateral Mixing in the Ocean on El Nino in a Suite of Fully Coupled Climate Models. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/2017ms000917.
Gnanadesikan, Anand, Russell, Alexandria, Pradal, Marie -Aude, & Abernathey, Ryan. Impact of Lateral Mixing in the Ocean on El Nino in a Suite of Fully Coupled Climate Models. United States. doi:10.1002/2017ms000917.
Gnanadesikan, Anand, Russell, Alexandria, Pradal, Marie -Aude, and Abernathey, Ryan. Thu . "Impact of Lateral Mixing in the Ocean on El Nino in a Suite of Fully Coupled Climate Models". United States. doi:10.1002/2017ms000917.
@article{osti_1408245,
title = {Impact of Lateral Mixing in the Ocean on El Nino in a Suite of Fully Coupled Climate Models},
author = {Gnanadesikan, Anand and Russell, Alexandria and Pradal, Marie -Aude and Abernathey, Ryan},
abstractNote = {We examine the dependence of the amplitude of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the mixing coefficient parameterizing the lateral mixing of tracers (ARedi) The value of this coefficient is very uncertain, ranging in Earth System Models between a few hundred and a few thousand m2 s–1, with some observational estimates showing even higher values. A suite of simulations is made with two spatially varying distributions of ARedi derived from satellite observations as well as four simulations where a spatially constant ARedi is varied over a factor of 6. Surprisingly, larger values of ARedi result in stronger ENSO variability despite the higher mixing coefficients producing more efficient lateral diffusive damping of anomalies. This is because lateral mixing also warms the cold tongue, increasing vertical temperature gradients and decreasing horizontal temperature gradients. Larger vertical temperature gradients make sea surface temperatures more responsive to atmospheric forcing, while smaller horizontal temperature gradients shift the location of convection and make the atmosphere more responsive to sea surface temperature anomalies. The last effect holds across simulations as well as within individual simulations and thus also helps to explain interdecadal variability in ENSO amplitude. By contrast, a previously proposed anticorrelation between the amplitude interannual and annual variability does not hold across simulations, although it does hold within simulations. The propagation of thermocline depth anomalies is relatively insensitive to the value of ARedi. Properly specifying the lateral mixing along the equator (including distinguishing the impacts of subgridscale turbulence and tropical instability waves) appears essential to simulating ENSO.},
doi = {10.1002/2017ms000917},
journal = {Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems},
number = 7,
volume = 9,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {9}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.1002/2017ms000917

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 3 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Parameterizing Eddy-Induced Tracer Transports in Ocean Circulation Models
journal, April 1995


Are historical records sufficient to constrain ENSO simulations?
journal, January 2009


The CCSM4 Ocean Component
journal, March 2012

  • Danabasoglu, Gokhan; Bates, Susan C.; Briegleb, Bruce P.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 25, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00091.1

Sea surface cooling at the Equator by subsurface mixing in tropical instability waves
journal, October 2009

  • Moum, J. N.; Lien, R. -C.; Perlin, A.
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 2, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo657

Direct Estimate of Lateral Eddy Diffusivity Upstream of Drake Passage
journal, October 2014

  • Tulloch, Ross; Ferrari, Raffaele; Jahn, Oliver
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 44, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1175/JPO-D-13-0120.1

Isopycnal mixing by mesoscale eddies significantly impacts oceanic anthropogenic carbon uptake
journal, June 2015

  • Gnanadesikan, Anand; Pradal, Marie‐Aude; Abernathey, Ryan
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 42, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1002/2015GL064100

Oceanic fine structure
journal, January 1972


Lagrangian statistics in the central North Pacific
journal, May 2001


ENSO Model Validation Using Wavelet Probability Analysis
journal, October 2010

  • Stevenson, Samantha; Fox-Kemper, Baylor; Jochum, Markus
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 23, Issue 20
  • DOI: 10.1175/2010JCLI3609.1

Phase Speed Cross Spectra of Eddy Heat Fluxes in the Eastern Pacific
journal, May 2015

  • Abernathey, Ryan; Wortham, Cimarron
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 45, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1175/JPO-D-14-0160.1

Regional impacts of iron-light colimitation in a global biogeochemical model
journal, January 2010

  • Galbraith, E. D.; Gnanadesikan, A.; Dunne, J. P.
  • Biogeosciences, Vol. 7, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/bg-7-1043-2010

Climate Variability and Radiocarbon in the CM2Mc Earth System Model
journal, August 2011

  • Galbraith, Eric D.; Kwon, Eun Young; Gnanadesikan, Anand
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 24, Issue 16
  • DOI: 10.1175/2011JCLI3919.1

Mechanisms controlling warm water volume interannual variations in the equatorial Pacific: diabatic versus adiabatic processes
journal, March 2011


Highly Variable El Niño–Southern Oscillation Throughout the Holocene
journal, January 2013


GFDL's CM2 Global Coupled Climate Models. Part II: The Baseline Ocean Simulation
journal, March 2006

  • Gnanadesikan, Anand; Dixon, Keith W.; Griffies, Stephen M.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 19, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3630.1

El Niño–mean state–seasonal cycle interactions in a multi-model ensemble
journal, November 2005


El Niño in a changing climate: a multi-model study
journal, January 2005

  • van Oldenborgh, G. J.; Philip, S. Y.; Collins, M.
  • Ocean Science, Vol. 1, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.5194/os-1-81-2005

Mixing of a tracer in the pycnocline
journal, September 1998

  • Ledwell, James R.; Watson, Andrew J.; Law, Clifford S.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Vol. 103, Issue C10
  • DOI: 10.1029/98JC01738

Variation in Holocene El Niño frequencies: Climate records and cultural consequences in ancient Peru
journal, January 2001


Geoarchaeological Evidence from Peru for a 5000 Years B.P. Onset of El Nino
journal, September 1996


A tracer-based inversion method for diagnosing eddy-induced diffusivity and advection
journal, February 2015


Oceanic Isopycnal Mixing by Coordinate Rotation
journal, October 1982


Decadal amplitude modulation of two types of ENSO and its relationship with the mean state
journal, September 2011


Impact of isopycnal mixing on the tropical ocean circulation
journal, January 2003


Global Patterns of Mesoscale Eddy Properties and Diffusivities
journal, March 2014

  • Klocker, Andreas; Abernathey, Ryan
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 44, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1175/JPO-D-13-0159.1

Isopycnal Mixing in Ocean Circulation Models
journal, January 1990


Effects of lateral mixing on the mean state and eddy activity of an equatorial ocean
journal, January 2003


The Impact of Convection on ENSO: From a Delayed Oscillator to a Series of Events
journal, November 2008

  • Neale, Richard B.; Richter, Jadwiga H.; Jochum, Markus
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 21, Issue 22
  • DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2244.1

Lateral mixing in the equatorial Pacific: The importance of inertial instability: EQUATORIAL LATERAL MIXING
journal, September 2003

  • Richards, K. J.; Edwards, N. R.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 30, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1029/2003GL017768

Robustness of an Effective Diffusivity Diagnostic in Oceanic Flows
journal, September 2009

  • Shuckburgh, Emily; Jones, Helen; Marshall, John
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 39, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1175/2009JPO4122.1

Will There Be a Significant Change to El Niño in the Twenty-First Century?
journal, March 2012

  • Stevenson, Samantha; Fox-Kemper, Baylor; Jochum, Markus
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 25, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00252.1

Critical role for mesoscale eddy diffusion in supplying oxygen to hypoxic ocean waters
journal, October 2013

  • Gnanadesikan, Anand; Bianchi, Daniele; Pradal, Marie‐Aude
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 40, Issue 19
  • DOI: 10.1002/grl.50998

Enhancement of Mesoscale Eddy Stirring at Steering Levels in the Southern Ocean
journal, January 2010

  • Abernathey, Ryan; Marshall, John; Mazloff, Matt
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 40, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1175/2009JPO4201.1

The two types of ENSO in CMIP5 models: TWO TYPES OF ENSO IN CMIP5 MODELS
journal, June 2012

  • Kim, Seon Tae; Yu, Jin-Yi
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 39, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1029/2012GL052006

Climate Response of the Equatorial Pacific to Global Warming
journal, September 2009

  • DiNezio, Pedro N.; Clement, Amy C.; Vecchi, Gabriel A.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 22, Issue 18
  • DOI: 10.1175/2009JCLI2982.1

GFDL’s ESM2 Global Coupled Climate–Carbon Earth System Models. Part I: Physical Formulation and Baseline Simulation Characteristics
journal, October 2012


The Modulation of Equatorial Turbulence by Tropical Instability Waves in a Regional Ocean Model
journal, April 2015


On the Warm Water Volume and Its Changing Relationship with ENSO
journal, May 2014

  • Bunge, Lucia; Clarke, Allan J.
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 44, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1175/JPO-D-13-062.1

Temperature Advection by Tropical Instability Waves
journal, April 2006

  • Jochum, Markus; Murtugudde, Raghu
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 36, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1175/JPO2870.1

How does the Redi parameter for mesoscale mixing impact global climate in an Earth System Model?
journal, July 2014

  • Pradal, Marie-Aude; Gnanadesikan, Anand
  • Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, Vol. 6, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/2013MS000273

An Ocean Dynamical Thermostat
journal, September 1996


Effectiveness of the Bjerknes stability index in representing ocean dynamics
journal, February 2014

  • Graham, Felicity S.; Brown, Jaclyn N.; Langlais, Clothilde
  • Climate Dynamics, Vol. 43, Issue 9-10
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00382-014-2062-3

A Reanalysis of Ocean Climate Using Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA)
journal, August 2008

  • Carton, James A.; Giese, Benjamin S.
  • Monthly Weather Review, Vol. 136, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1175/2007MWR1978.1

Effects in a climate model of slope tapering in neutral physics schemes
journal, January 2007


Tropical Pacific impacts of convective momentum transport in the SNU coupled GCM
journal, December 2007


Specification of Eddy Transfer Coefficients in Coarse-Resolution Ocean Circulation Models*
journal, March 1997


Eddy-mean flow decomposition and eddy-diffusivity estimates in the tropical Pacific Ocean: 1. Methodology
journal, December 1998

  • Bauer, Sonia; Swenson, Mark S.; Griffa, Annalisa
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Vol. 103, Issue C13
  • DOI: 10.1029/1998JC900009

A coupled-stability index for ENSO
journal, January 2006

  • Jin, Fei-Fei; Kim, Seon Tae; Bejarano, Luis
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, Issue 23
  • DOI: 10.1029/2006GL027221

Sensitivity of an Equatorial Pacific OGCM to the Lateral Diffusion
journal, May 1997


Robust ENSO across a Wide Range of Climates
journal, August 2014


Oceanic vertical mixing: A review and a model with a nonlocal boundary layer parameterization
journal, January 1994

  • Large, W. G.; McWilliams, J. C.; Doney, S. C.
  • Reviews of Geophysics, Vol. 32, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1029/94RG01872

ENSO representation in climate models: from CMIP3 to CMIP5
journal, April 2013


Interdecadal Changes in the ENSO–Monsoon System
journal, August 1999


Significant changes to ENSO strength and impacts in the twenty-first century: Results from CMIP5: CMIP5 ENSO CHANGES
journal, September 2012


Understanding Multidecadal Variability in ENSO Amplitude
journal, June 2014


Regional impacts of ocean color on tropical Pacific variability
journal, January 2009

  • Anderson, W.; Gnanadesikan, A.; Wittenberg, A.
  • Ocean Science, Vol. 5, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/os-5-313-2009

Parameterization of Mixed Layer Eddies. Part I: Theory and Diagnosis
journal, June 2008

  • Fox-Kemper, Baylor; Ferrari, Raffaele; Hallberg, Robert
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 38, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1175/2007JPO3792.1

The Norwegian Earth System Model, NorESM1-M – Part 1: Description and basic evaluation of the physical climate
journal, January 2013

  • Bentsen, M.; Bethke, I.; Debernard, J. B.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 6, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-6-687-2013

The HadGEM2-ES implementation of CMIP5 centennial simulations
journal, January 2011

  • Jones, C. D.; Hughes, J. K.; Bellouin, N.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 4, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-4-543-2011

Bio-optical feedbacks among phytoplankton, upper ocean physics and sea-ice in a global model
journal, January 2005


SOFAR Floats Reveal Midlatitude Intermediate North Atlantic General Circulation. Part I: A Lagrangian Descriptive View
journal, July 2002


Tropical Pacific Decadal Variability and Its Relation to Decadal Modulations of ENSO
journal, October 2004


Exploring the isopycnal mixing and helium–heat paradoxes in a suite of Earth system models
journal, January 2015

  • Gnanadesikan, A.; Pradal, M. -A.; Abernathey, R.
  • Ocean Science, Vol. 11, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.5194/os-11-591-2015

Effects of vertical variations of thickness diffusivity in an ocean general circulation model
journal, January 2007


Transfer properties of the large-scale eddies and the general circulation of the atmosphere
journal, April 1970

  • Green, J. S. A.
  • Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Vol. 96, Issue 408
  • DOI: 10.1002/qj.49709640802

System Design and Evaluation of Coupled Ensemble Data Assimilation for Global Oceanic Climate Studies
journal, October 2007

  • Zhang, S.; Harrison, M. J.; Rosati, A.
  • Monthly Weather Review, Vol. 135, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1175/MWR3466.1