Pantropical inter-ocean interactions & the rising influence of tropical Atlantic Ocean

Conventional view so far has been that El Nino – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is largely responsible for energizing the dominant modes of SST variability  in the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans through changes in the Walker circulation and extratropical atmospheric waves. However, recent studies have shown that SST variability in the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans (e.g., Atlantic Warm Pool variability, Indian Ocean Dipole, and Indian Ocean Basin mode) can significantly feed back onto the evolution of ENSO. In a new paper published in Science, a team of international scientists led by Wenju Cai reviewed the recent findings on the inter-ocean tropical interaction,  highlighting the rising influence of tropical Atlantic Ocean in recent years.

Figure 1 from Cai et al. (2019): Pantropical feedbacks affecting ENSO. The black loop represents internal Pacific fast positive feedbacks (short arrows) and delayed negative feedbacks (long arrows). Interbasin feedbacks include Pacific feedbacks onto the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (blue arrows), delayed negative feedbacks of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans onto the Pacific (orange and green arrows, respectively), and positive feedbacks of the Atlantic onto the Indian Ocean (yellow arrow). The effects of atmospheric noise forcing in the Pacific are indicated by the gray dotted line.

Cai, W. et al. (2019) Pantropical climate interactions. Science, 363, (6430),  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6430/eaav4236

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