Climate Dynamics

, Volume 48, Issue 7–8, pp 2173–2190 | Cite as

Tropical climate variability: interactions across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans

  • Jules B. KajtarEmail author
  • Agus Santoso
  • Matthew H. England
  • Wenju Cai


Complex interactions manifest between modes of tropical climate variability across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. For example, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) extends its influence on modes of variability in the tropical Indian and Atlantic Oceans, which in turn feed back onto ENSO. Interactions between pairs of modes can alter their strength, periodicity, seasonality, and ultimately their predictability, yet little is known about the role that a third mode plays. Here we examine the interactions and relative influences between pairs of climate modes using ensembles of 100-year partially coupled experiments in an otherwise fully coupled general circulation model. In these experiments, the air–sea interaction over each tropical ocean basin, as well as pairs of ocean basins, is suppressed in turn. We find that Indian Ocean variability has a net damping effect on ENSO and Atlantic Ocean variability, and conversely they each promote Indian Ocean variability. The connection between the Pacific and the Atlantic is most clearly revealed in the absence of Indian Ocean variability. Our model runs suggest a weak damping influence by Atlantic variability on ENSO, and an enhancing influence by ENSO on Atlantic variability.


ENSO Indian Ocean Dipole Indian Ocean Basinwide Mode Atlantic Niño Tropical variability Climate modes 



This study was supported by the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. This research was undertaken with the assistance of resources from the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), which is supported by the Australian Government. We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), and we thank the climate modelling groups for producing and making available their model output. We also acknowledge the observational reconstructions provided the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Climate Prediction Center Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP), and the Hadley Centre.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jules B. Kajtar
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Agus Santoso
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matthew H. England
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wenju Cai
    • 3
  1. 1.Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System ScienceUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Climate Change Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchAspendaleAustralia

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