, Volume 16, Issue 2-3, pp 213-218

The equatorial Atlantic oscillation and its response to ENSO

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An internal equatorial Atlantic oscillation has been identified by analyzing sea surface temperature (SST) observations. The equatorial Atlantic oscillation can be viewed as the Atlantic analogue of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific, but it is much less vigorous. The equatorial Atlantic oscillation is strongly influenced by the Pacific ENSO with the equatorial Atlantic sea surface temperature lagging by about six months. This lag can be explained by the dynamical adjustment time of the equatorial Atlantic to low-frequency wind stress variations and the seasonally varying background state, which favours strongest growth of perturbations in summer. Results of an extended-range simulation with a coupled ocean-atmosphere GCM support this picture.

Received: 5 October 1998 / Accepted: 9 August 1999