Decadal modulation of the relationship between intraseasonal tropical variability and ENSO

  • Daria Gushchina
  • Boris Dewitte


The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) amplitude is modulated at decadal timescales, which, over the last decades, has been related to the low-frequency changes in the frequency of occurrence of the two types of El Niño events, that is the Eastern Pacific (EP) and Central Pacific (CP) El Niños. Meanwhile ENSO is tightly linked to the intraseasonal tropical variability (ITV) that is generally enhanced prior to El Niño development and can act as a trigger of the event. Here we revisit the ITV/ENSO relationship taking into account changes in ENSO properties over the last six decades. The focus is on two main components of ITV, the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) and convectively coupled equatorial Rossby waves (ER). We show that the ITV/ENSO relationship exhibits a decadal modulation that is not related in a straight-forward manner to the change in occurrence of El Niño types and Pacific decadal modes. While enhanced MJO activity associated to EP El Niño development mostly took place over the period 1985–2000, the ER activity is enhanced prior to El Niño development over the whole period with a tendency to relate more to CP El Niño than to EP El Niño. In particular the relationship between ER activity and ENSO was particularly strong for the period 2000–2015, which results in a significant positive long-term trend of the predictive value of ER activity. The statistics of the MJO and ER activity is consistent with the hypothesis that they can be considered a state-dependent noise for ENSO linked to distinct lower frequency climate modes.


Intraseasonal tropical variability El Niño Decadal modulation 



B. Dewitte and D. Gushchina acknowledge supports from FONDECYT (projects 1151185 and 1171861). LEFE-GMMC (Mercator Ocean, France) is thanked for financial supports through the STEPPE project. D. Gushchina acknowledges supports from Russian Foundation of Basic Research (project No. 18-05-00767). The study is carried out in frame of scientific program of the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University no. АААА-А16-116032810086-4.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of GeographyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Centro de Estudios Avanzado en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA)La SerenaChile
  3. 3.Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad Católica del NorteCoquimboChile
  4. 4.Millennium Nucleus for Ecology and Sustainable Management of Oceanic Islands (ESMOI)CoquimboChile
  5. 5.Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie SpatialesToulouseFrance

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