Skip to main content
Log in

Simulated future changes in ENSO dynamics in the framework of the linear recharge oscillator model

Climate Dynamics Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article


This study analysed the changes in El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) dynamics as they are simulated in 25 models of the CMIP5 simulations for the RCP8.5 scenario relative to the historical control simulation. The ENSO linear recharge oscillator (ReOsc) framework is used to focus on changes in the growth rate of eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (T) and mean equatorial Pacific thermocline depth (h) anomalies, the coupling between the two and the noise forcing driving the ENSO variability. We further focused on the feedbacks controlling the growth rate of T, namely the Bjerknes wind to sea surface temperature (SST) feedback, the atmospheric net heat flux and the residual oceanic feedback. We find significant changes in nearly all of these important elements of the ENSO dynamics, despite the fact that the ensemble shows very little changes in the overall ENSO variability. The growth rate of T weakens resulting from a combination of increased negative atmospheric net heat flux feedbacks, increased positive Bjerknes wind-SST feedback and increased residual oceanic feedbacks. Further notable changes are, an increase in the growth rate of h and a stronger coupling of T to h. Sensitivity analysis of the ReOsc model can explain why these strong dynamical changes lead to effectively no changes in the overall ENSO variability, but are likely to affect the predictability of ENSO.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


The work was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Climate System Science (CE110001028), the ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate Extremes (CE170100023) and the ARC project “Beyond the linear dynamics of the El Niño Southern Oscillation” (DP120101442). The work presented here has a long history going back to 2007 with a number of people contributing to the analysis over time that we like to acknowledge here: Malte Jansen, Claudia Frauen, Simona Trefalt, Chevillard Jeanne and Payan Timothée and Yanshan Yu.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dietmar Dommenget.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (PDF 74 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dommenget, D., Vijayeta, A. Simulated future changes in ENSO dynamics in the framework of the linear recharge oscillator model. Clim Dyn 53, 4233–4248 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: