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Title: Diversity of ENSO Events Unified by Convective Threshold Sea Surface Temperature: A Nonlinear ENSO Index

Abstract

In this paper, we show that the well-known failure of any single index to capture the diversity and extremes of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) results from the inability of existing indices to uniquely characterize the average longitude of deep convection in the Walker Circulation. We present a simple sea surface temperature (SST)-based index of this longitude that compactly characterizes the different spatial patterns, or flavors of observed and projected ENSO events. It recovers the familiar global responses of temperature, precipitation, and tropical cyclones to ENSO and identifies historical extreme El Niño events. Despite its simplicity, the new longitude index describes the nonlinear relationship between the first two principal components of SST, and unlike previous indices, accounts for background SST changes associated with the seasonal cycle and climate change. Lastly, the index reveals that extreme El Niño, El Niño Modoki, and La Niña events are projected to become more frequent in the future at the expense of neutral ENSO conditions.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23). Climate and Environmental Sciences Division
OSTI Identifier:
1480815
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1471131
Grant/Contract Number:  
[AC02-05CH11231]
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
[ Journal Volume: 45; Journal Issue: 17]; Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; ENSO diversity; extreme El Niño; Modoki; precipitation teleconnection; convective threshold; ENSO index

Citation Formats

Williams, Ian N., and Patricola, Christina M. Diversity of ENSO Events Unified by Convective Threshold Sea Surface Temperature: A Nonlinear ENSO Index. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1029/2018GL079203.
Williams, Ian N., & Patricola, Christina M. Diversity of ENSO Events Unified by Convective Threshold Sea Surface Temperature: A Nonlinear ENSO Index. United States. doi:10.1029/2018GL079203.
Williams, Ian N., and Patricola, Christina M. Tue . "Diversity of ENSO Events Unified by Convective Threshold Sea Surface Temperature: A Nonlinear ENSO Index". United States. doi:10.1029/2018GL079203. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1480815.
@article{osti_1480815,
title = {Diversity of ENSO Events Unified by Convective Threshold Sea Surface Temperature: A Nonlinear ENSO Index},
author = {Williams, Ian N. and Patricola, Christina M.},
abstractNote = {In this paper, we show that the well-known failure of any single index to capture the diversity and extremes of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) results from the inability of existing indices to uniquely characterize the average longitude of deep convection in the Walker Circulation. We present a simple sea surface temperature (SST)-based index of this longitude that compactly characterizes the different spatial patterns, or flavors of observed and projected ENSO events. It recovers the familiar global responses of temperature, precipitation, and tropical cyclones to ENSO and identifies historical extreme El Niño events. Despite its simplicity, the new longitude index describes the nonlinear relationship between the first two principal components of SST, and unlike previous indices, accounts for background SST changes associated with the seasonal cycle and climate change. Lastly, the index reveals that extreme El Niño, El Niño Modoki, and La Niña events are projected to become more frequent in the future at the expense of neutral ENSO conditions.},
doi = {10.1029/2018GL079203},
journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
number = [17],
volume = [45],
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {9}
}

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