the more frequent occurrence of the central Pacific (CP) type of El Ni?o since
the turn of the 21st century, the existing theories of ENSO (El Ni?o–Southern
Oscillation) mechanisms, as well as our ability to predict ENSO, face severe
challenges. Hence, since the concept of CP El Ni?o was put forward, it has drawn
broad attention among scientific researchers. However, the physical mechanisms
of CP ENSO are still not fully understood, and simulating it tends to yield grave
defects, even in state-of-the-art general circulation models (GCMs). Owing to
the complexity of the physical processes and parameters included in GCMs, it is
hard to find ways to directly improve the situation.
Xianghui FANG, from Fudan University, and Prof. Fei ZHENG, from the Institute
of Atmospheric Physics, used a simple linear air–sea coupled model (GMODEL),
which can accurately depict the strength distribution of the thermocline (TH)
and zonal advective (ZA) feedbacks in the equatorial Pacific, to investigate
the two types of ENSO. Their findings, published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences (Fang and Zheng, 2018) show that
the model can reproduce the main characteristics of CP ENSO if the TH feedback
is switched off and the ZA feedback is retained as the only positive feedback, confirming the dominant role played by ZA feedback
in the development of CP ENSO. Further experiments indicated that, through a
simple nonlinear control approach, many ENSO characteristics, including the
existence of both CP and EP El Ni?o and the asymmetries between El Ni?o and La
Ni?a, can be successfully captured using the simple linear air–sea coupled
Schematic diagrams of the (a) EP (eastern Pacific) and (b) CP (central
Pacific) types of El Ni?o (also referred to as El Ni?o Modoki). The maximum sea
surface temperature anomalies are in the EP during EP El Ni?o, whereas they are
concentrated in the CP during CP El Ni?o [figure adapted from Ashok et al. (2009)]
indicate that an accurate depiction of the climatological sea surface
temperature distribution and the related ZA feedback, which are the subject of
severe biases in GCMs, is very important in simulating a realistic CP El Ni?o,”
argues Dr. Xianghui FANG.
X. H., and F. Zheng, 2018: Simulating eastern- and central-Pacific type ENSO
using a simple coupled model. Adv. Atmos.
Sci., 35(6), https://doi.org/10.1007/s00376-017-7209-9.