Climate Dynamics

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 839–855 | Cite as

The preconditioning role of Tropical Atlantic Variability in the development of the ENSO teleconnection: implications for the prediction of Nordeste rainfall

Article

Abstract

A comparison of rainfall variability in the semi-arid Brazilian Nordeste in observations and in two sets of model simulations leads to the conclusion that the evolving interaction between Tropical Atlantic Variability (TAV) and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon can explain two puzzling features of ENSO’s impact on the Nordeste: (1) the event-to-event unpredictability of ENSO’s impact; (2) the greater impact of cold rather than warm ENSO events during the past 50 years. The explanation is in the ‘preconditioning’ role of Tropical Atlantic Variability. When, in seasons prior to the mature phase of ENSO, the tropical Atlantic happens to be evolving consistently with the development expected of the ENSO teleconnection, ENSO and TAV add up to force large anomalies in Nordeste rainfall. When it happens to be evolving in opposition to the canonical development of ENSO, then the net outcome is less obvious, but also less anomalous. The more frequent occurrence of tropical Atlantic conditions consistent with those that develop during a cold ENSO event, i.e. of a negative meridional sea surface temperature gradient, explains the weaker warm ENSO and stronger cold ENSO anomalies in Nordeste rainfall of the latter part of the twentieth century. Close monitoring of the evolution of the tropical Atlantic in seasons prior to the mature phase of ENSO should lead to an enhanced forecast potential.

References

  1. Alexander MA, Bladé I, Newman M, Lanzante JR, Lau N-C, Scott JD (2002) The atmospheric bridge: the influence of ENSO teleconnections on air-sea interaction over the global oceans. J Clim 15: 2205–2231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biasutti M (2000) Low-frequency variability in the Tropical Atlantic as simulated by the NCAR Climate System Model and the CCM3 coupled to a slab ocean model. 43 pp. Master’s Thesis, University of Washington, USAGoogle Scholar
  3. Cayan DR (1992) Latent and sensible heat flux anomalies over the northern oceans: the connection to monthly atmospheric circulation. J Clim 5: 354–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cazes-Boezio G, Robertson AW, Mechoso CR (2003) Seasonal dependence of ENSO teleconnections over South America and relationships with precipitation in Uruguay. J Clim 16: 1159–1176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chang P, Ji L, Li H (1997) A decadal climate variation in the tropical Atlantic Ocean from thermodynamic air-sea interactions. Nature 385: 516–518Google Scholar
  6. Chang P, Saravanan R, Ji L (2003) Tropical Atlantic seasonal predictability: the roles of El Niño remote influence and thermodynamic air-sea feedback. Geophys Res Lett 30: 1501–1504Google Scholar
  7. Chiang JCH, Kushnir Y, Giannini A (2002) Deconstructing Atlantic ITCZ vasriability: influence of the local cross-equatorial SST gradient, and remote forcing from the eastern equatorial Pacific. J Geophys Res-Atmospheres 107(D1):10.1029/2000JD000307Google Scholar
  8. Chiang JCH, Kushnir Y, Zebiak SE (2000) Interdecadal changes in eastern Pacific ITCZ variability and its influence on the Atlantic ITCZ. Geophys Res Lett 27: 3687–3690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Curtis S, Hastenrath S (1995) Forcing of anomalous sea surface temperature evolution in the tropical Atlantic during Pacific warm events. J Geophys Res 100: 15,835–15,847CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Czaja A, van der Vaart P, Marshall J (2002) A diagnostic study of the role of remote forcing in tropical Atlantic variability. J Clim 15: 3280–3290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Easterling DR, Peterson TC, Karl TR (1996) On the development and use of homogenized climate data sets. J Clim 9: 1429–1434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Enfield DB, Mayer DA (1997) Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature variability and its relation to El Niño-Southern Oscillation. J Geophys Res 102: 929–945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fisher RA (1970) Statistical methods for research workers, 14th edn. Hafner, New York City, USA, pp 362Google Scholar
  14. Giannini A, Cane MA, Kushnir Y (2001a) Interdecadal changes in the ENSO teleconnection to the Caribbean region and the North Atlantic Oscillation. J Clim 14: 2867–2879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Giannini A, Chiang JCH, Cane MA, Kushnir Y, Seager R (2001b) The ENSO teleconnection to the tropical Atlantic Ocean: contributions of the remote and local SSTs to rainfall variability in the tropical Americas. J Clim 14: 4530–4544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Giannini A, Kushnir Y, Cane MA (2000) Interannual variability of Caribbean rainfall, ENSO and the Atlantic Ocean. J Clim 13: 297–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hastenrath S (1991) Climate dynamics of the tropics. Kluwer Academic Dordrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  18. Hastenrath S (1995) Recent advances in tropical climate prediction. J Clim 8: 1519–1532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hastenrath S, Greischar L (1993) Circulation mechanisms related to northeast Brazil rainfall anomalies. J Geophys Res 98: 5093–5102Google Scholar
  20. Hastenrath S, Heller L (1977) Dynamics of climatic hazards in northeast Brazil QJR Meteorol Soc 103: 77–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harzallah A, Aragão JOR, Sadourny R (1996) Interannual rainfall variability in northeast Brazil: observation and model simulation. J Clim 16: 861–878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kaplan A, Cane MA, Kushnir Y, Clement AC, Blumenthal MB, Rajagopalan B (1998) Analyses of global sea surface temperature 1856–1991. J Geophys Res 103: 18,567–18,589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kiehl JT, Hack JJ, Bonan GB, Boville BA, Briegleb BP, Williamson DL, Rasch PJ (1996) Description of the NCAR Community Climate Model CCM3. NCAR Technical Note TN-420. NCAR, PO Box 3000, Boulder CO 80307-3000, USAGoogle Scholar
  24. Kiehl JT, Hack JJ, Bonan GB, Boville BA, Williamson DL, Rasch PJ (1998) The National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate Model: CCM3. J Clim 11: 1131–1149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kiladis GN, Diaz HF (1989) Global climatic anomalies associated with extremes in the Southern Oscillation. J Clim 2: 1069–1090CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Koster RD, Suarez MJ, Heiser (2000) Variance and predictability of precipitation at seasonal-to-interannual timescales. J Hydrometeorol 1: 26–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kushnir Y, Seager R, Chiang JCH, Miller Velez J (2002) A simple coupled model of tropical Atlantic climate variability. Geophys Res Lett 29: 2133–2136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lau N-C (1997) Interactions between global SST anomalies and the midlatitude atmospheric circulation. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 78: 21–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lau N-C, Nath MJ (1994) A modeling study of the relative roles of tropical and extratropical SST anomalies in the variability of the global atmosphere-ocean system. J Clim 7: 1184–1207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lau N-C, Nath MJ (1996) The role of the ‘atmospheric bridge’ in linking tropical Pacific ENSO events to extratropical SST anomalies. J Clim 9: 2036–2057CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Levitus S, Boyer T (1994) World Ocean Atlas 1994 vol 4: temperature. NOAA Atlas NESDIS. US Department of Commerce, Washington, DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  32. Lindzen RS, Nigam S (1987) On the role of sea surface temperature gradients in forcing low-level winds and convergence in the tropics. J Atmos Sci 44: 2418–2436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Magalhaes AR (1993) Drought and policy resposes in the Brazilian northeast In: Wilhite DA (ed) Drought assessment, management, and planning: theory and case studies. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, The Netherlands pp 181–189Google Scholar
  34. Mo KC, Higgins RW (1998) The Pacific-South American modes and tropical convection during the Southern Hemisphere winter. Mon Weather Rev 126: 1581–1596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moron V, Navarra A, Ward MN, Roeckner E (1998) Skill and reproducibility of seasonal rainfall patterns in the tropics in ECHAM-4 GCM simulations with prescribed SST. Clim Dyn 4(2): 83–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moura AD, Shukla J (1981) On the dynamics of droughts in northeast Brazil: observations, theory and numerical experiments with a general circulation model. J Atmos Sci 38: 2653–2675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nobre P, Shukla J (1996) Variations of sea surface temperature, wind stress, and rainfall over the tropical Atlantic and South America. J Clim 9: 2464–2479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Palmer TN, Brankovic C, Viterbo P, Miller MJ (1992) Modeling interannual variations of summer monsoons. J Clim 5: 399–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Peterson TC, Easterling DR (1994) Creation of homogeneous composite climatological reference series. Int J Climatol 14: 671–679Google Scholar
  40. Pezzi LP, Cavalcanti IFA (2001) The relative importance of ENSO and tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature anomalies for seasonal precipitation over South America: a numerical study. Clim Dyn 17: 205–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rasmusson EM, Carpenter TH (1982) Variations in tropical sea surface temperature and surface wind fields associated with the Southern Oscillation/El Niño. Mon Weather Rev 110: 354–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reynolds RW, Smith TM (1994) Improved global sea surface temperature analyses using optimum interpolation. J Clim 7: 929–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ropelewski CF, Halpert MS (1987) Global and regional precipitation patterns associated with the E1 Niño/Southern Oscillation. Mon Weather Rev 115: 1606–1626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ropelewski CF, Halpert MS (1996) Quantifying Southern Oscillation-precipitation relationships. J Clim 9: 1043–1059CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Saravanan R, Chang P (2000) Interaction between tropical Atlantic variability and E1 Niño-Southern Oscillation. J Clim 13: 2177–2194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Seager R, Kushnir Y, Naik N, Miller J, Chang P, Hazeleger W (2001) Looking for the role of the ocean in tropical Atlantic decadal climate variability. J Clim 14: 638–655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Seager R, Kushnir Y, Visbeck M, Naik N, Miller J, Krahmann G, Cullen H (2000) Causes of Atlantic Ocean climate variability between 1958 and 1998. J Clim 13: 2845–2862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Servain J (1991) Simple climatic indices for the tropical Atlantic Ocean and some applications. J Geophys Res 96: 15,137–15,146Google Scholar
  49. Sperber KR, Palmer TN (1996) Interannual tropical rainfall variability in general circulation model simulations associated with the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project. J Clim 9: 2727–2750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Uvo CB, Repelli CA, Zebiak SE, Kushnir Y (1998) The relationships between tropical Pacific and Atlantic SST and Northeast Brazil monthly precipitation. J Clim 11: 551–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. von Storch H, Zwiers FW (1999) statistical analysis in climate research, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 484Google Scholar
  52. Vose RS, Schmoyer RL, Steurer PM, Peterson TC, Heim R, Karl TR, Eischeid J (1992) The Global Historical Climatology Network: long-term monthly temperature, precipitation, sea level pressure, and station pressure data. ORNL/CDIAC-53, NDP-041. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA pp 300Google Scholar
  53. Wallace JM, Rasmusson EM, Mitchell TP, Kousky VE, Sarachik ES, von Storch H (1998) On the structure and evolution of ENSO-related climate variability in the tropical Pacific: lessons from TOGA. J Geophys Res 103(C7): 14,241–14,259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ward MN, Folland CK (1991) Prediction of seasonal rainfall in the north Nordeste of Brazil using eigenvectors of sea surface temperature. Int J Climatol 11: 711–743Google Scholar
  55. Xie S-P (1999) A dynamic ocean-atmosphere model of the tropical Atlantic decadal variability. J Clim 12: 64–70Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag  2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of OceanographyTexas A and M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.International Research Institute for Climate PredictionPalisadesUSA

Personalised recommendations