A comparison of sea surface salinity in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during the 1997–1998, 2012–2013, and 2014–2015 ENSO events

  • Caroline M. Corbett
  • Bulusu Subrahmanyam
  • Benjamin S. Giese
Article

Abstract

Sea surface salinity (SSS) variability during the 1997–1998 El Niño event and the failed 2012–2013 and 2014–2015 El Niño events is explored using a combination of observations and ocean reanalyses. Previously, studies have mainly focused on the sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface height (SSH) variability. This analysis utilizes salinity data from Argo and the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA) reanalysis to examine the SSS variability. Advective processes and evaporation minus precipitation (E−P) variability is understood to influence SSS variability. Using surface wind, surface current, evaporation, and precipitation data, we analyze the causes for the observed SSS variability during each event. Barrier layer thickness and upper level salt content are also examined in connection to subsurface salinity variability. Both advective processes and E-P variability are important during the generation and onset of a successful El Niño, while a lack of one or both of these processes leads to a failed ENSO event.

Keywords

Sea surface salinity El Niño Argo SODA reanalysis 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline M. Corbett
    • 1
  • Bulusu Subrahmanyam
    • 1
  • Benjamin S. Giese
    • 2
  1. 1.School of the Earth, Ocean and EnvironmentUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of OceanographyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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