Climate Dynamics

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 231–254

ENSO forcing of the Northern Hemisphere climate in a large ensemble of model simulations based on a very long SST record


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-006-0181-1

Cite this article as:
Herceg Bulić, I. & Branković, Č. Clim Dyn (2007) 28: 231. doi:10.1007/s00382-006-0181-1


The January–March (JFM) climate response of the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere to observed sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies for the period 1855–2002 is analysed from a 35-member ensemble made with SPEEDY, an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) of intermediate complexity. The model was run at the T30-L8 resolution, and initial conditions and the early stage of model runs differ among ensemble members in the definition of tropical diabatic heating. SST anomalies in the Niño3.4 region were categorised into five classes extending from strong cold to strong warm. Composites based on such a categorisation enabled an analysis of the influence of the tropical Pacific SST on the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation with an emphasis on the Pacific-North America (PNA) and the North Atlantic-Europe (NAE) regions. As expected, the strongest signal was detected over the PNA region. An “asymmetry” in the model response was found for the opposite polarity of the Niño3.4 index; however, this asymmetry stems mainly from the difference in the amplitude of model response rather than from the phase shift between responses to warm and cold El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. The extratropical signal associated with warm ENSO events was found to be stronger than that related to cold events. The results also reveal that, for the PNA region, the amplitude of the response is positively correlated with the strength of ENSO, irrespective of the sign of ENSO. With almost no phase shift between model responses to El Niño and La Niña, the linear component of the response is much stronger than the non-linear component. Although the model climate response over the NAE region is much weaker than that over the PNA region, some striking similarities with the PNA are found. Both sea level pressure and precipitation responses are positively correlated with the strength of ENSO. This is not true for the 200-hPa geopotential heights, and no plausible explanation for such a result could be offered. An appreciable linear component in model response over the NAE was also found. The model results over the NAE region agree reasonably well with observational studies. An additional analysis of the remote atmospheric response to very weak ENSO forcing (defined from the interval between 0.5σ and 1.0σ of the interannual variance) was also carried out. A discernible model response in the Northern Hemisphere to such a weak SST forcing was found.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Andrija Mohorovičić Geophysical Institute, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological ServiceZagrebCroatia