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Comparison of Wintertime North American Climate Impacts Associated with Multiple ENSO Indices

  • Author(s): Yu, B
  • Zhang, X
  • Lin, H
  • Yu, JY
  • et al.

© 2015 Taylor & Francis. This analysis compares the climate impacts over North America during winter associated with various El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indices, including the Niño 3.4 index, the leading tropical Pacific outgoing longwave radiation and sea surface temperature (OLR-SST) covariability, and the eastern Pacific (EP) and central Pacific (CP) types of ENSO identified from both partial-regression-empirical orthogonal function (EOF) and regression-EOF approaches. The traditional Niño 3.4 SST index is found to be optimal for monitoring the tropical Pacific OLR-SST covariability and for the tropical SST impact on North America. The circulation anomalies associated with the Niño 3.4 index project on both the Pacific/North American (PNA) and Tropical/Northern Hemisphere (TNH) patterns. The ENSO associated with the PNA tends to come from both the EP and CP ENSOs, whereas that associated with the TNH comes more from the EP ENSO. The variability of ENSO significantly affects North American temperature and precipitation, as well as temperature and precipitation extremes. For either the EP or CP types of ENSO, qualitatively similar patterns of climate and climate extreme anomalies are apparent associated with the indices identified by the two EOF approaches, with differences mainly in the anomalous amplitude. The anomalous patterns are generally field significant over North America for the EP ENSO but not field significant for the CP ENSO. The circulation anomalies associated with ENSO are reinforced and maintained by synoptic vorticity fluxes in the upper troposphere. The anomalous surface temperature is mainly determined by the anomalies in surface radiative heating in the face of upward surface longwave radiative damping. The precipitation anomalies are supported by the vertically integrated moisture transport. The differences in atmospheric circulation, surface temperature, and precipitation among the various ENSO indices, including the intensity and spatial structure of the fields, can be attributed to the corresponding differences in synoptic eddy vorticity forcing, surface radiative heating, and vertically integrated moisture transport.

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