, Volume 30, Issue 7-8, pp 745-762
Date: 11 Oct 2007

ENSO at 6ka and 21ka from ocean–atmosphere coupled model simulations

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We analyze how the characteristics of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are changed in coupled ocean–atmosphere simulations of the mid-Holocene (MH) and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) performed as part of the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project phase 2 (PMIP2). Comparison of the model results with present day observations show that most of the models reproduce the large scale features of the tropical Pacific like the SST gradient, the mean SST and the mean seasonal cycles. All models simulate the ENSO variability, although with different skill. Our analyses show that several relationships between El Niño amplitude and the mean state across the different control simulations are still valid for simulations of the MH and the LGM. Results for the MH show a consistent El Niño amplitude decrease. It can be related to the large scale atmospheric circulation changes. While the Northern Hemisphere receives more insolation during the summer time, the Asian summer monsoon system is strengthened which leads to the enhancement of the Walker circulation. Easterlies prevailing over the central eastern Pacific induce an equatorial upwelling that damps the El Niño development. Results are less conclusive for 21ka. Large scale dynamic competes with changes in local heat fluxes, so that model shows a wide range of responses, as it is the case in future climate projections.