Climate Dynamics

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 1285–1301

ENSO modes of the equatorial Pacific Ocean in observations and CMIP5 models


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-013-1941-3

Cite this article as:
Weare, B.C. Clim Dyn (2014) 43: 1285. doi:10.1007/s00382-013-1941-3


El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the predominant interannual variability of the global climate system. How might ENSO change in a warmer world? The dominant two Combined Empirical Orthogonal Functions (CEOF) of the equatorial ocean temperature and zonal and vertical motion identify two modes that shown a transition in the eastern Pacific from a warming eastward/downward motion to a cooling westward/upward flow. These results also suggest consistent changes to the west and at depths down to 300 m. These dominate CEOFs provide a compact tool for assessing Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 ocean model output for both the recent historical period and for the latter part of the twenty first century. Most of the analyzed models replicate well the spatial patterns of the dominant observational CEOF modes, but nearly always underestimate the magnitudes. Comparing model output for the twentieth and twenty first centuries there is very little change between the spatial patterns of the ENSO modes of the two periods. This lack of response to climate change is shown to be partly related to competing influences of climatic changes in the mean ocean circulation.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmospheric Science Program, Land, Air and Water ResourcesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA