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Contrasting the flavors of El Niño ‐ Southern oscillation using sea surface salinity observations

Singh, Awnesh M. and Delcroix, T. and Cravatte, S. (2011) Contrasting the flavors of El Niño ‐ Southern oscillation using sea surface salinity observations. Journal of Geophysical Research (Oceans), 116 (C06016). pp. 1-16. ISSN 0148-0227

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The recent detection of a central Pacific type of El Niño has added a new dimension to the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation climatic puzzle. Sea surface salinity (SSS) observations collected during 1977–2008 in the tropical Pacific are used to contrast the three eastern Pacific (EP) (1982–1983, 1991–1992, 1997–1998) and seven central Pacific (CP) (1977–1978, 1986–1988, 1990–1991, 1992–1995, 2002–2003, 2004–2005, 2006–2007) types of El Niño events, as well as the six EP (1985–1986, 1988–1989, 1995–1996, 1999–2001, 2005–2006, 2007–2008) and two CP (1983–1984, 1998–1999) types of La Niña events. The EP El Niño events result in large (∼30° longitude) eastward displacements of the eastern edge of the low‐salinity warm pool waters in the equatorial band, a resulting well‐marked SSS freshening (∼−1) near the dateline, and a SSS increase (∼+1) below the mean position of the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ). The
CP El Niño events are characterized by smaller (50%) eastward displacements of the eastern edge, a ∼15° longitude westward shift of the equatorial SSS freshening, and a comparatively reduced (∼50%) SSS increase in the SPCZ. A qualitative analysis indicates that changes in zonal currents and precipitation can account for the observed contrasted signature in SSS. Eastward current anomalies appear over most of the equatorial band during EP El Niño events. In contrast, there is a tendency for zonal current convergence slightly west of the dateline during CP El Niño events, consistent with the confinement of the warm/fresh pool in the western central equatorial basin, the related quasi‐inexistent northeastward migration of the SPCZ, and associated heavy precipitation regime.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD)
Depositing User: Awnesh Singh
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2013 20:15
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2017 22:54

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