Processes involved in the second-year warming of the 2015 El Niño event as derived from an intermediate ocean model
The tropical Pacific experienced a sustained warm sea surface condition that started in 2014 and a very strong El Niño event in 2015. One striking feature of this event was the horseshoe-like pattern of positive subsurface thermal anomalies that was sustained in the western-central equatorial Pacific throughout 2014–2015. Observational data and an intermediate ocean model are used to describe the sea surface temperature (SST) evolution during 2014–2015. Emphasis is placed on the processes involved in the 2015 El Niño event and their relationships with SST anomalies, including remote effects associated with the propagation and reflection of oceanic equatorial waves (as indicated in sea level (SL) signals) at the boundaries and local effects of the positive subsurface thermal anomalies. It is demonstrated that the positive subsurface thermal anomaly pattern that was sustained throughout 2014–2015 played an important role in maintaining warm SST anomalies in the equatorial Pacific. Further analyses of the SST budget revealed the dominant processes contributing to SST anomalies during 2014–2015. These analyses provide an improved understanding of the extent to which processes associated with the 2015 El Niño event are consistent with current El Niño and Southern Oscillation theories.
Keywords2015 El Niño event Intermediate ocean model Process analyses SST budget
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