, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 223-233

Statistical simulations of the future 50-year statistics of cold-tongue El Niño and warm-pool El Niño

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Abstract

Recent extensive studies have suggested that the occurrence of warm-pool El Niño has increased since the late 1970s and will increase in future climate. Occurrence frequencies of cold-tongue and warm-pool El Niño have been investigated in the observational record (1980–2006) and in the future 50 years (2007–2056) based on 100 synthetic SST datasets with estimates of statistical confidence. In the observational record, 80% of the warm-pool El Niño occurred since 1980 over a period of 27 years; only 20% of the warm-pool El Niño occurred prior to 1980 over a period of 110 years. The 100 synthetic datasets, on average, produce 142 months of cold-tongue El Niño in 2007–2056 as opposed to an average 107 months in the same length of the observational data; this is a 20.7% increase in the occurrence of cold-tongue El Niño compared with the observational period. Warm-pool El Niño occurred for 112 months in 2007–2056 as opposed to an average occurrence of 42 months in the observational record; this is 2.5 times the occurrence frequency in the 1980–2006 period in the synthetic datasets. As a result, occurrence frequencies of cold-tongue and warm-pool El Niño in the period of 2007–2056 become quite comparable to each other in the synthetic datasets. It is expected in the next 50 years that warm-pool El Niño will be nearly as frequent as cold-tongue El Niño.