Climate Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 9–10, pp 5743–5761 | Cite as

Covariations between the Indian Ocean dipole and ENSO: a modeling study

  • Hui WangEmail author
  • Arun Kumar
  • Raghu Murtugudde
  • Balachandrudu Narapusetty
  • Knut L. Seip


The coevolution of the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is examined using both observational data and coupled global climate model simulations. The covariability of IOD and ENSO is analyzed by applying the extended empirical orthogonal function (EEOF) method to the surface and subsurface ocean temperatures in the tropical Indian Ocean and western Pacific. The first EEOF mode shows the evolution of IOD that lags ENSO, whereas the second mode exhibits the transition from a dipole mode to a basin-wide mode in the tropical Indian Ocean that leads ENSO. The lead-lag relationships between IOD and ENSO are consistent with two-way interactions between them. A comparison between two 500-year model simulations with and without ENSO shows that ENSO can enhance the variability of IOD at interannual time scale. The influence of ENSO on the IOD intensity is larger for the eastern pole than for the western pole, and further, is stronger in the negative IOD phase than in the positive phase. The influence of IOD on ENSO is demonstrated by the improvement of ENSO prediction using sea surface temperature (SST) in the tropical Indian Ocean as an ENSO precursor. The improvement of the ENSO forecast skill is found at both a short lead time (0 month) and long leads (10–15 months). The SST in the western pole has more predictive value than in the eastern pole. The eastward propagation of surface and subsurface temperature signals from the western Indian Ocean that precedes the development of heat content anomaly in the tropical western Pacific is the key for extending the lead time for ENSO prediction. Our results are consistent with previously reported findings but highlight the spatial–temporal evolution of the ENSO-IOD system. It is also illustrated that IOD would have been more helpful in predicting the 1997/98 El Niño than the 2015/16 El Niño.


Indian Ocean dipole El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Climate modeling 



The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers and the editor for their insightful and constructive comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arun Kumar
    • 1
  • Raghu Murtugudde
    • 2
  • Balachandrudu Narapusetty
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Knut L. Seip
    • 4
  1. 1.NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center, 5830 University Research Court, NCWCPCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.ESSIC, University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.InnovimGreenbeltUSA
  4. 4.Faculty of Technology, Art, and DesignOsloMet–Oslo Metropolitan UniversityOsloNorway

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