Climate Dynamics

, Volume 49, Issue 1–2, pp 97–112 | Cite as

Inter-decadal variations in the linkages between ENSO, the IOD and south-eastern Australian springtime rainfall in the past 30 years

  • Eun-Pa Lim
  • Harry H. Hendon
  • Mei Zhao
  • Yonghong Yin


The 30 year period 1985–2014 experienced a swing of the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) from the warm phase to the cold phase. Here we investigate variation of the relation between El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole mode (IOD) and resultant changes in the predictability of the IOD and south-eastern Australian (SEA) springtime rainfall associated with this swing in the IPO. Using observational analyses, we show that during the warm phase of the IPO in the 1980s–1990s, the amplitudes of ENSO and the IOD were large, and the correlation between them was high; thus predictability of the IOD was high. Nevertheless, during these decades SEA spring rainfall was only weakly related to ENSO and the IOD, and therefore predictability of SEA rainfall was low. In contrast, during the cold phase of the IPO in the 2000s, the opposite was found: the IOD occurred more independently from ENSO, so the IOD was less predictable. Nonetheless, SEA spring rainfall was more strongly related to ENSO and the IOD, and therefore, SEA rainfall was more predictable in the 2000s than in the 1980s–1990s. The cause of this decadal variation in the relationship of SEA rainfall with ENSO and the IOD between the recent warm and cold states of the IPO appears to be a systematic zonal variation of the rainfall anomalies in the tropical Indo-Pacific associated with the IOD and ENSO and related changes in the Rossby wave train path over Australia.


Decadal variability Predictability ENSO IOD Australian rainfall 



This study is supported by the Victorian Climate Initiative, and was undertaken with the assistance of resources from the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), which is supported by the Australian Government. The authors are grateful to Drs Rob Colman and Guomin Wang in the Bureau of Meteorology and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable constructive comments on this manuscript. We also acknowledge NCAR/UCAR, ECMWF and NOAA for producing and providing Hurrell et al. (2008) SST analysis, ERA-Interim reanalysis and Reynolds OI v2 SST analysis, respectively. The NCAR Command Language (NCL; NCL 2014) was used for data analysis and visualization of the results.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau of MeteorologyMelbourneAustralia

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