Decadal variability and trends of the isothermal layer depth (ILD), mixed layer depth (MLD), and barrier layer thickness (BLT) were analyzed for the tropical Pacific during 1979–2015. The decadal variability of ILD, MLD, and BLT shows a close connection with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). At PDO positive phase, the eastward shift of precipitation and weakened trade winds result in thinner BLT in western Pacific and thicker BLT in central and eastern Pacific. The situation is reversed at PDO negative phase. The differences in BLT can be up to 9–15 m. The spatial distributions of decadal trends of ILD and MLD are complex, but a thickening of BLT in the western tropical Pacific is clearly present. The raw trends of ILD, MLD, and BLT averaged in the tropical Pacific (30° N–30° S, 120° E–75° W) from 1979 to 2015 are 1.62, 1.20, and 0.51 m per decade, respectively. PDO can explain about 25% of the increasing trends of BLT, while El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) only explains about 1.7%. Global warming and/or variability at longer time scales is responsible for the remaining increasing trends. The BLT change is related to the warming and freshening of the western Pacific warm pool in recent decades. The ocean-atmosphere interactions about trade winds, wind-driven ocean circulation, temperature, and precipitation/evaporation are discussed.
Barrier layers Tropical Pacific Decadal variability and trends PDO
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The work is supported by the National Key R&D Program of China, No. 2016YFC1401408, and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41576018 and No. 41606020).
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