El Nino variability in simple ocean data assimilation (SODA), 1871-2008 Academic Article uri icon


  • A new ocean reanalysis that covers the period from 1871 to 2008 is used to explore the time-evolving characteristics of El Nio. The new reanalysis assimilates all available hydrographic and sea surface temperature data into a model of the global ocean forced with surface boundary conditions from an atmospheric reanalysis that also covers the period from 1871 through 2008. Using traditional measures of El Nio, our reanalysis shows that the timing of El Nio events is in agreement with sea surface temperature reconstructions, but El Nio in the reanalysis is stronger, particularly from 1871 to 1920. A new index based on the first moment of the temperature anomaly is introduced. The new index is used to characterize the strength and location of El Nio events and has the advantage that it is independent of the location of El Nio. Using the new index, El Nio in the reanalysis shows prominent decadal variability of strength but relatively little long-term trend. El Nio events were strong in the last part of the 19th century and first part of the 20th century and again in the latter part of the 20th century, with weak El Nio events in the middle of the 20th century. The location of El Nio also varies considerably, ranging from the western to the eastern Pacific near the coast of South America. However, the null hypothesis that the location of El Nio can be represented as a random distribution about a central longitude of about 140W cannot be rejected. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 14.544

author list (cited authors)

  • Giese, B. S., & Ray, S.

citation count

  • 284

complete list of authors

  • Giese, Benjamin S||Ray, Sulagna

publication date

  • January 2011