How Would the Twenty-First-Century Warming Influence Pacific Decadal Variability and Its Connection to North American Rainfall: Assessment Based on a Revised Procedure for the IPO/PDO Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractDecadal climate variability of sea surface temperature (SST) over the Pacific Ocean can be characterized by interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO) or Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) based on empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis. Although the procedures to derive the IPO and PDO indices differ in their regional focuses and filtering methods to remove interannual variability, the IPO and PDO are highly correlated in time and are often used interchangeably. Studies have shown that the IPO and PDO conjointly (IPO/PDO for conciseness) play a vital role in modulating the pace of global warming. It is less clear, however, how externally forced global warming may, in turn, affect the IPO/PDO. One obstacle to revealing this effect is that the conventional definitions of the IPO/PDO fail to account for the spatial heterogeneity of the background warming trend, which causes the IPO/PDO to be conflated with the warming trend, especially for the twenty-first-century simulation when the forced change is likely to be more dominant. Using a large-ensemble simulation in the Community Earth System Model, version 1 (CESM1), it is shown here that a better practice of detrending prior to EOF analysis is to remove the local and nonlinear trend, defined as the ensemble-mean time series at each grid box (or simply as the quadratic fit of the local time series if such an ensemble is not available). The revised IPO/PDO index is purely indicative of internal decadal variability. In the twenty-first-century warmer climate, the IPO/PDO has a weaker amplitude in space, a higher frequency in time, and a muted impact on global and North American temperature and rainfall.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 13.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Xu, Y., & Hu, A.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Xu, Yangyang||Hu, Aixue

publication date

  • February 2018