Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 65, Issue 5, pp 691–705 | Cite as

Interannually varying salinity effects on ENSO in the tropical pacific: a diagnostic analysis from Argo

  • Fei Zheng
  • Rong-Hua Zhang


In this paper, three-dimensional temperature and salinity fields from Argo profiles are used to diagnose the interannual variations of some related upper oceanic fields in the tropical Pacific, with a focus on interannually varying salinity effects on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. It is clearly demonstrated that the salinity field plays a significantly large role in modulating the density and mixed layer (ML) over the western-central tropical Pacific. In particular, the contribution of interannually varying salinity to the interannual variations in density, ML, and stratification is surprisingly larger than that of interannually varying temperature. Over the entire region west of the dateline, the salinity effects are not limited to the surface but are clearly seen below the ML as represented in density and stratification fields. Furthermore, the mechanism for how the anomalous salinity field is modulating the ENSO cycle is investigated and explained through the El Niño (2009–2010) and La Niña (2010–2011) cases. Evidently, salinity field is shown to exert a significant influence on interannual variability as it directly affects the vertical mixing and entrainment at the base of the ML, the processes important to sea surface temperature (SST) in the equatorial regions.


Salinity effect ENSO Argo Western-central tropical Pacific 



This work was supported by the National Program for Support of Top-notch Young Professionals, the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant Nos. 2012CB417404 and 2012CB956000), the Chinese Academy Sciences’ Project “Western Pacific Ocean System: Structure, Dynamics and Consequences” (WPOS; Grant Nos. XDA10010405 and XDA11010301), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41176014 and 41475101).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Center for Climate and Environment Science (ICCES), Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Ocean Circulation and Waves, Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina

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