Semiannual and annual oscillations of sea level and their impact on asymmetry between El Niño and La Niña episodes
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The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, we demonstrate that the asymmetry between El Niño and La Niña events recorded in sea level variation occurs only during extreme episodes of El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Second, we explain that the asymmetry is controlled by certain regular cycles which have time-variable amplitudes. Gridded maps of sea level anomaly that form a spatial-temporal time series (spatial resolution: 1° × 1°, sampling interval: 1 week) spanning the time interval from 14/10/1993 to 18/04/2012 were used. We examined those time series and found that certain regular harmonic signals (periods: 365, 182, 120, 90 and 62 days) are dominant terms of their temporal variability. By subtracting those oscillations from sea level anomaly data, residuals were determined. Using skewness and kurtosis as measures of asymmetry and nonlinearity — after adopting 10-year moving window — we found that the extreme El Niño 1997/1998 has been a dominant driving force of the asymmetry and nonlinearity of El Niño/Southern Oscillation since the end of 1993. In order to detect residual signals that are responsible for the asymmetry, we applied the Fourier Transform Band Pass Filter and found that there are two important oscillations remaining in the residual sea level anomaly data, i.e. the annual and semiannual ones with time-varying amplitudes. We hypothesize that temporarily uneven amplitudes have meaningful impact on the aforementioned asymmetry.
KeywordsEl Niño/Southern Oscillation El Niño 1997/1998 sea level anomaly asymmetry nonlinearity annual cycle semiannual cycle
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