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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The two types of ENSO in CMIP5 models


[1] In this study, we evaluate the intensity of the Central-Pacific (CP) and Eastern-Pacific (EP) types of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) simulated in the pre-industrial, historical, and the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 experiments of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). Compared to the CMIP3 models, the pre-industrial simulations of the CMIP5 models are found to (1) better simulate the observed spatial patterns of the two types of ENSO and (2) have a significantly smaller inter-model diversity in ENSO intensities. The decrease in the CMIP5 model discrepancies is particularly obvious in the simulation of the EP ENSO intensity, although it is still more difficult for the models to reproduce the observed EP ENSO intensity than the observed CP ENSO intensity. Ensemble means of the CMIP5 models indicate that the intensity of the CP ENSO increases steadily from the pre-industrial to the historical and the RCP4.5 simulations, but the intensity of the EP ENSO increases from the pre-industrial to the historical simulations and then decreases in the RCP4.5 projections. The CP-to-EP ENSO intensity ratio, as a result, is almost the same in the pre-industrial and historical simulations but increases in the RCP4.5 simulation.

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