Climate Dynamics

, Volume 50, Issue 5–6, pp 1625–1638 | Cite as

Role of the meridional dipole of SSTA and associated cross-equatorial flow in the tropical eastern Pacific in terminating the 2014 El Niño development

  • Yi-Kai Wu
  • Lin Chen
  • Chi-Cherng Hong
  • Tim Li
  • Cheng-Ta Chen
  • Lu Wang


In the boreal spring of 2014, the oceanic and atmospheric conditions were favorable for an El Niño's development. It was predicted that in 2014, a super El Niño or at least a regular El Niño with normal magnitude, would initiate. However, the growth rate of the sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) in the equatorial eastern Pacific suddenly declined in the boreal summer. The physical processes responsible for the termination of the 2014 El Niño were addressed in this study. We hypothesized that a meridional dipole of SSTA, characterized by a pronounced warm SSTA over the eastern North Pacific (ENP) and cold SSTA over the eastern South Pacific (ESP), played a crucial role in blocking the 2014 El Niño’s development. The observational analysis revealed that the meridional dipole of SSTA and the relevant anomalous cross-equatorial flow in the tropical eastern Pacific, induced anomalous westward (\({u^\prime }<0\)) and upwelling (\({w^\prime }>0\)) currents in the equatorial eastern Pacific, leading to negative anomalous zonal advection term (\(- {u^\prime }\partial \overline T /\partial x<0\)) and anomalous upwelling advection term (\(- {w^\prime }\partial \overline T /\partial z<0\)). Additionally, the anomalous cross-equatorial flow also induced northward meridional current anomalies that transported subtropical cold water to the equator. All the changes of the oceanic dynamic terms collectively caused negative SSTA tendency in the boreal summer, and thus killed off the budding 2014 El Niño. The idealized numerical experiments further confirmed that the 2014 El Niño’s development could be suppressed by the meridional dipole of SSTA, and both the ENP pole and ESP pole make a contribution.


ENSO 2014–2015 El Niño Meridional dipole of SSTA in eastern Pacific Cross-equatorial flow Ocean–atmosphere interaction 



We would like to thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions and comments. The data for this paper are from Met Office Hadley Centre sea ice and SST data sets, ECMWF ERA-Interim atmospheric fields and NCEP GODAS oceanic fields. CCH was supported by MOST-104-2111-M-845-002, and CTC was supported by MOST-105-2119-M-003-004 and MOST-104-2621-M-865-001. This work was also supported by NSF AGS-1565653, NSFC project 41630423, NSFC Grant 41376002/41606011/41530426/41606033, CAS Strategic Priority Project XDA11010105, and JAMSTEC JIJI Theme1 project. This is SOEST contribution number 10010 and IPRC contribution number 1252.

Supplementary material

382_2017_3710_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 3966 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yi-Kai Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lin Chen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Chi-Cherng Hong
    • 2
  • Tim Li
    • 3
    • 4
  • Cheng-Ta Chen
    • 1
  • Lu Wang
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Life SciencesUniversity of TaipeiTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), and Department of Atmospheric Sciences, SOESTUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster, Ministry of Education/Joint International Research Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Change/Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological DisastersNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina

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