Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 35–44 | Cite as

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation

  • Nathan J. Mantua
  • Steven R. Hare


The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has been described by some as a long-lived El Niño-like pattern of Pacific climate variability, and by others as a blend of two sometimes independent modes having distinct spatial and temporal characteristics of North Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability. A growing body of evidence highlights a strong tendency for PDO impacts in the Southern Hemisphere, with important surface climate anomalies over the mid-latitude South Pacific Ocean, Australia and South America. Several independent studies find evidence for just two full PDO cycles in the past century: “cool” PDO regimes prevailed from 1890–1924 and again from 1947–1976, while “warm” PDO regimes dominated from 1925–1946 and from 1977 through (at least) the mid-1990's. Interdecadal changes in Pacific climate have widespread impacts on natural systems, including water resources in the Americas and many marine fisheries in the North Pacific. Tree-ring and Pacific coral based climate reconstructions suggest that PDO variations—at a range of varying time scales—can be traced back to at least 1600, although there are important differences between different proxy reconstructions. While 20th Century PDO fluctuations were most energetic in two general periodicities—one from 15-to-25 years, and the other from 50-to-70 years—the mechanisms causing PDO variability remain unclear. To date, there is little in the way of observational evidence to support a mid-latitude coupled air-sea interaction for PDO, though there are several well-understood mechanisms that promote multi-year persistence in North Pacific upper ocean temperature anomalies.

Regime shift climate impacts PDO IPO NPO fishery oceanography 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adkison, M. D., R. M. Peterman, M. F. Lapointe, D. M. Gillis and J. Korman (1996): Alternative models of climatic effects on sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) productivity in Bristol Bay, Alaska and Fraser River, British Columbia. Fish. Oceanogr., 5, 137–152.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, M. A., C. Deser and M. S. Timlin (1999): The reemergence of SST anomalies in the North Pacific Ocean. J. Climate, 12,No. 8, 2419–2433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexander, M. A., M. S. Timlin and J. D. Scott (2001): Winter-to-winter recurrence of sea surface temperature, salinity and mixed layer depth. Prog. Oceanogr., 49, 41–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson, P. J. and J. F. Piatt (1999): Community reorganization in the Gulf of Alaska following ocean climate regime shift. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 189, 117–123.Google Scholar
  5. Barlow, M., S. Nigam and E. H. Berbery (2001): ENSO, Pacific decadal variability, and U.S. summertime precipitation, drought, and streamflow. J. Climate, 14, 2105–2128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barsugli, J. J. and D. S. Battisti (1998): The basic effects of atmosphere-ocean thermal coupling on midlatitude variability. J. Atmos. Sci., 55, 477–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beamish, R. J. (1993): Climate and exceptional fish production off the west coast of North America. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 50, 2270–2291.Google Scholar
  8. Beamish, R. J. and D. R. Bouillon (1993): Pacific salmon production trends in relation to climate. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 50, 1002–1016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beamish, R. J., D. J. Noakes, G. A. McFarlane, L. Klyashtorin, V. V. Ivanov and V. Kurashov (1999): The regime concept and natural trends in the production of Pacific salmon. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 56, 516–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Biondi, F., A. Gershunov and D. R. Cayan (2001): North Pacific decadal climate variability since 1661. J. Climate, 14, 5–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brodeur, R. D. and D. M. Ware (1992): Long-term variability in zooplankton biomass in the subarctic Pacific Ocean. Fish. Oceanogr., 1, 32–38.Google Scholar
  12. Brodeur, R. D., B. W. Frost, S. R. Hare, R. C. Francis and W. J. Ingraham, Jr. (1996): Interannual variations in zooplankton biomass in the Gulf of Alaska and covariation with California Current zooplankton. Calif. Coop. Oceanic Fish. Invest. Rep., 37, 80–99.Google Scholar
  13. Cayan, D. R., A. A. Kammerdiener, M. D. Dettinger, J. M. Caprio and D. H. Peterson (2001): Changes in the onset of spring in the western United States. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 82, 399–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chao, Y., M. Ghil and J. C. McWilliams (2000): Pacific interdecadal variability in this Century's sea surface temperatures. Geophys. Res. Lett., 27, 2261–2264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clark, W. G., S. R. Hare, A. M. Parma, P. J. Sullivan and R. J. Trumble (1999): Decadal changes in growth and recruitment of Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 56, 173–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dettinger, M. D., D. S. Battisti, R. D. Garreaud, G. J. McCabe, Jr. and C. M. Bitz (2000): Interhemispheric effects of interannual and decadal ENSO-like climate variations on the Americas. p. 1–16. In Present and Past Interhemispheric Climate Linkages in the Americas and their Societal Effects, ed. by V. Markgraf, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.Google Scholar
  17. Ebbesmeyer, C. C., D. R. Cayan, D. R. Milan, F. H. Nichols, D. H. Peterson and K. T. Redmond (1991): 1976 step in the Pacific climate: forty environmental changes between 1968–1975 and 1977–1984. p. 115–126. In Proceedings of the 7th Annual Climate (PACLIM) Workshop, April 1990, ed. by J. L. Betancourt and V. L. Tharp, California Department of Water Resources, Interagency Ecological Studies Program Technical Report 26.Google Scholar
  18. Enfield, D. B. and A. M. Mestas-Nuñez (1999): Multiscale variabilities in global sea surface temperatures and their relationships with tropospheric climate patterns. J. Climate, 12, 2719–2733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Evans, M. N., A. Kaplan, M. A. Cane and R. Villalba (2000): Globality and optimality in climate field reconstructions from proxy data. p. 53–72. In Present and Past Interhemispheric Climate Linkages in the Americas and Their Societal Effects, ed. by V. Markgraf, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.Google Scholar
  20. Evans, M. N., M. A. Cane, D. P. Schrag, A. Kaplan, B. K. Linsley, R. Villalba and G. M. Wellington (2001): Support for tropically-driven Pacific decadal variability based on paleoproxy evidence. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28, 3689–3692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Folland, C. K., D. E. Parker, A. Colman and R. Washington (1999): Large scale modes of ocean surface temperature since the late nineteenth century. p. 73–102. In Beyond El Niño: Decadal and Interdecadal Climate Variability, ed. by A. Navarra, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 374 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Francis, R. C. and S. R. Hare (1994): Decadal-scale regime shifts in the large marine ecosystems of the North-east Pacific: a case for historical science. Fish. Oceanogr., 3, 279–291.Google Scholar
  23. Francis, R. C. and S. R. Hare (1997): Regime scale climate forcing of salmon populations in the Northeast Pacific—some new thoughts and findings. p. 113–128. In Estuarine and Ocean Survival of Northeastern Pacific Salmon: Proceedings of the Workshop, ed. by R. L. Emmett and M. H. Schiewe, U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-NWFSC-29.Google Scholar
  24. Francis, R. C., S. R. Hare, A. B. Hollowed and W. S. Wooster (1998): Effects of interdecadal climate variability on the oceanic ecosystems of the NE Pacific. Fish. Oceanogr., 7, 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fritts, H. C. (1991): Reconstructing Large-Scale Climatic Patterns from Tree-Ring Data. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson & London, 286 pp.Google Scholar
  26. Garreaud, R. D. and D. S. Battisti (1999): Interannual ENSO and interdecadal ENSO-like variability in the Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation. J. Climate, 12, 2113–2123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gedalof, Z. and D. J. Smith (2001): Interdecadal climate variability and regime-scale shifts in Pacific North America. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28, 1515–1518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gershunov, A. and T. P. Barnett (1998): Interdecadal modulation of ENSO teleconnections. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79, 2715–2726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Graham, N. E. (1994): Decadal-scale climate variability in the 1970s and 1980s: observations and model results. Clim. Dyn. 10, 135–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hare, S. R. (1996): Low frequency climate variability and salmon production. Ph.D. Dissertation. Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA, 306 pp.Google Scholar
  31. Hare, S. R. and R. C. Francis (1995): Climate change and salmon production in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. p. 357–372. In Climate Change and Northern Fish Populations, ed. by R. J. Beamish, Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 121.Google Scholar
  32. Hare, S. R. and N. J. Mantua (2000): Empirical evidence for North Pacific regime shifts in 1977 and 1989. Prog. Oceanogr., 47, 103–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hare, S. R., N. J. Mantua and R. C. Francis (1999): Inverse production regimes: Alaskan and West Coast Salmon. Fisheries, 24, 6–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hollowed, A. B., S. R. Hare and W. S. Wooster (1998): Pacific-Basin climate variability and patterns of Northeast Pacific marine fish production. p. 89–104. In Proceedings of the 10th ‘Aha Huliko’ a Hawaiian Winter Workshop on Biotic Impacts of Extratropical Climate Variability in the Pacific, ed. by G. Holloway, P. Muller and D. Henderson. NOAA Award No. NA67RJ0154, SOEST Special Publication.Google Scholar
  35. Kaplan, A., Y. Kushnir and M. A. Cane (2000): Reduced Space Optimal Interpolation of historical marine sea level pressure: 1854–1992. J. Climate, 13, 2987–3002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kawasaki, T. (1991): Long-term variability in the pelagic fish populations. p 47–60. In Long-Term Variability of Pelagic Fish Populations and Their Environment, ed. by T. Kawasaki, S. Tanaka, Y. Toba and A. Taniguchi, Pergamon Press, New York.Google Scholar
  37. Latif, M. and T. P. Barnett (1994): Causes of decadal climate variability over the north Pacific and North America. Science, 266, 634–637.Google Scholar
  38. Latif, M. and T. P. Barnett (1996): Decadal climate variability over the North Pacific and North America: dynamics and predictability. J. Climate, 9, 2407–2423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Linsley, B. K., G. M. Wellington and D. P. Schrag (2000): Decadal sea surface temperature variability in the subtropical South Pacific from 1726 to 1997 A.D. Science, 290, 1145–1148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mackas, D. L., R. Goldblatt and A. G. Lewis (1998): Interdecadal variation in developmental timing of Neocalanus plumchrus populations at Ocean Station P in the subarctic North Pacific. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 55, 1878–1893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mantua, N. J., S. R. Hare, Y. Zhang, J. M. Wallace and R. C. Francis (1997): A Pacific interdecadal climate oscillation with impacts on salmon production. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78, 1069–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McFarlane, G. and R. J. Beamish (1992): Climatic influence linking copepod production with strong year-classes in sablefish, Anaplopoma fimbria. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 49, 743–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McGowan, J. A., D. R. Cayan and L. M. Dorman (1998): Climate-ocean variability and ecosystem response in the Northeast Pacific. Science, 281, 210–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Miller, A. J. and N. Schneider (2000): Interdecadal climate regime dynamics in the North Pacific Ocean: theories, observations and ecosystem impacts. Prog. Oceanogr., 47, 355–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Miller, A. J., D. R. Cayan, T. P. Barnett, N. E. Graham and J. M. Oberhuber (1994): The 1976–77 climate shift of the Pacific Ocean. Oceanography, 7, 21–26.Google Scholar
  46. Minobe, S. (1997): A 50–70 year climatic oscillation over the North Pacific and North America. Geophys. Res. Lett., 24, 683–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Minobe, S. (1999): Resonance in bidecadal and pentadecadal climate oscillations over the North Pacific: Role in climatic regime shifts. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 855–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Minobe, S. (2000): Spatio-temporal structure of the pentadecadal variability over the North Pacific. Prog. Oceanogr., 47, 381–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nakamura, H., G. Lin and T. Yamagata (1997): Decadal climate variability in the North Pacific during the recent decades. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78, 2215–2225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. National Research Council (NRC) (1996): Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 171 pp.Google Scholar
  51. National Research Council (NRC) (1998): Decade-to-Century Scale Climate Variability and Change: A Science Strategy. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 141 pp. ( Scholar
  52. Nitta, T. and S. Yamada (1989): Recent warming of tropical sea surface temperature and its relationship to the Northern Hemisphere circulation. J. Meteor. Soc. Japan, 67, 375–383.Google Scholar
  53. Peterman, R. M., B. J. Pyper, M. F. Lapointe, M. D. Adkison and C. J. Walters (1998): Patterns of covariation in survival rates of British Columbia and Alaskan sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) stocks. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 55, 2503–2517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Piatt, J. F. and P. Anderson (1995): Response of common murres to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and long-term changes in the Gulf of Alaska marine ecosystem. p. 720–737. In Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Symposium Proceedings, ed. by S. D. Rice, R. B. Spies, D. A. Wolfe and B. A. Wright, AFS Symp. No. 18.Google Scholar
  55. Power, S., F. Tseitkin, S. Torok, B. Lavery, R. Dahni and B. McAvaney (1997): Australian temperature, Australian rainfall and the Southern Oscillation, 1910–1992: Coherent variability and recent changes. Austr. Meteorol. Mag., 47, 85–101.Google Scholar
  56. Power, S., F. Tseitkin, V. Mehta, B. Lavery, S. Torok and N. Holbrook (1999a): Decadal climate variability in Australia during the twentieth century. Int. J. Climatol., 19, 169–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Power, S., T. Casey, C. Folland, A. Colman and V. Mehta (1999b): Inter-decadal modulation of the impact of ENSO on Australia. Clim. Dyn., 15, 319–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rasmussen, E. M. and J. M. Wallace (1983): Meteorological aspects of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Science, 222, 1195–1202.Google Scholar
  59. Roemmich, D. and J. McGowan (1995): Climatic warming and the decline of zooplankton in the California Current. Science, 267, 1324–1326.Google Scholar
  60. Schneider, N. and A. J. Miller (2001): Predicting western North Pacific ocean climate. J. Climate, 14, 3997–4002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schwing, F. and C. Moore (2000): A year without a summer for California, or a harbinger of a climate shift? Eos Trans., AGU, 81, 301, 304–305.Google Scholar
  62. Seager, R., Y. Kushnir, N. H. Naik, M. A. Cane and J. Miller (2001): Wind-driven shifts in the latitude of the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension and generation of SST anomalies on decadal time scales. J. Climate, 14, 4249–4265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tanimoto, Y., N. Iwasaka, K. Hanawa and Y. Toba (1993): Characteristic variations of sea surface temperatures with multiple time scales in the North Pacific. J. Climate, 6, 1153–1160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tourre, Y. M., B. Rajagopalan, Y. Kushnir, M. Barlow and W. B. White (2001): Patterns of coherent decadal and interdecadal climate signals in the Pacific Basin during the 20th Century. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28, 2069–2072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Trenberth, K. E. (1990): Recent observed interdecadal climate changes in the northern hemisphere. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 71, 988–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Trenberth, K. E. and J. W. Hurrell (1994): Decadal atmosphere-ocean variations in the Pacific. Clim. Dyn., 9, 303–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Trenberth, K. E. and D. J. Shea (1987): On the evolution of the Southern Oscillation. Mon. Wea. Rev., 115, 3078–3096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vandenbosch, R. (2000): Effects of ENSO and PDO events on seabird populations as revealed by Christmas bird count data. Waterbirds, 23, 416–422.Google Scholar
  69. Venrick, E. L., J. A. McGowan, D. R. Cayan and T. L. Hayward (1987): Climate and chlorophyll a: long-term trends in the central north Pacific Ocean. Science, 238, 70–72.Google Scholar
  70. Wallace, J. M. and D. S. Gutzler (1981): Teleconnections in the geopotential height field during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Mon. Wea. Rev., 109, 784–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. White, W. B. and D. R. Cayan (1998): Quasi-periodicity and global symmetries in interdecadal upper ocean temperature variability. J. Geophys. Res., 103, 21,335–21,354.Google Scholar
  72. Willmott, C. J. and K. Matsuura (2000): Terrestrial Air Temperature and Precipitation: Monthly and Annual Time Series (1950–1996) (WWW URL: Scholar
  73. Willmott, C. J. and S. M. Robeson (1995): Climatologically-aided interpolation (CAI) of terrestrial air temperature. Int. J. Climatol., 15, 221–229.Google Scholar
  74. Yasuda, I., H. Sugusaki, Y. Watanabe, S. Minobe and Y. Oozeki (1999): Interdecadal variations in Japanese sardine and ocean/climate. Fish. Oceanogr., 8, 18–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zhang, Y. (1996): An observational study of atmosphere-ocean interaction in the northern oceans on interannual and interdecadal time-scales. Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA, 162 pp.Google Scholar
  76. Zhang, Y., J. M. Wallace and D. S. Battisti (1997): ENSO-like interdecadal variability. J. Climate, 10, 1004–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan J. Mantua
    • 1
  • Steven R. Hare
    • 2
  1. 1.Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and OceansUniversity of WashingtonSeattleU.S.A
  2. 2.International Pacific Halibut CommissionSeattleU.S.A

Personalised recommendations