Climate Dynamics

, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 1811–1827

Impact of bio-physical feedbacks on the tropical climate in coupled and uncoupled GCMs


  • Jong-Yeon Park
    • Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
    • International Max Planck Research School On Earth System Modelling
    • Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology
  • Hyodae Seo
    • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Jürgen Bader
    • Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
    • Geophysical InstituteUniversity of Bergen

DOI: 10.1007/s00382-013-2009-0

Cite this article as:
Park, J., Kug, J., Seo, H. et al. Clim Dyn (2014) 43: 1811. doi:10.1007/s00382-013-2009-0


The bio-physical feedback process between the marine ecosystem and the tropical climate system is investigated using both an ocean circulation model and a fully-coupled ocean–atmosphere circulation model, which interact with a biogeochemical model. We found that the presence of chlorophyll can have significant impact on the characteristics of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), including its amplitude and asymmetry, as well as on the mean state. That is, chlorophyll generally increases mean sea surface temperature (SST) due to the direct biological heating. However, SST in the eastern equatorial Pacific decreases due to the stronger indirect dynamical response to the biological effects outweighing the direct thermal response. It is demonstrated that this biologically-induced SST cooling is intensified and conveyed to other tropical-ocean basins when atmosphere–ocean coupling is taken into account. It is also found that the presence of chlorophyll affects the magnitude of ENSO by two different mechanisms; one is an amplifying effect by the mean chlorophyll, which is associated with shoaling of the mean thermocline depth, and the other is a damping effect derived from the interactively-varying chlorophyll coupled with the physical model. The atmosphere–ocean coupling reduces the biologically-induced ENSO amplifying effect through the weakening of atmospheric feedback. Lastly, there is also a biological impact on ENSO which enhances the positive skewness. This skewness change is presumably caused by the phase dependency of thermocline feedback which affects the ENSO magnitude.


ENSOTropical mean climateBiological feedback

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013