Interhemispheric thermal gradient and tropical Pacific climate Academic Article uri icon


  • We explore the impact of interhemispheric thermal gradients forcing on the tropical Pacific ocean-atmosphere climate in an intermediate coupled model. The equatorial zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradient strengthens with an increased northward interhemispheric thermal gradient, the increase arising from earlier onset and later retreat of the seasonal cold tongue, and intensification during the peak cold season. When the mean interhemispheric thermal gradient is reversed, the central equatorial Pacific SST annual cycle abruptly reverses in phase, with its cold season in Mar-May rather than Sep-Nov. While startling, this response is consistent with a prevailing hypothesis that ties the cold tongue SST annual cycle phase to the hemispheric mean asymmetry of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. El Nio-Southern Oscillation activity is also sensitive to the interhemispheric thermal gradient, with peak activity occurring when the mean gradient is small, reducing rapidly as the mean gradient increases in either direction. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Chiang, J., Fang, Y., & Chang, P.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Chiang, John CH||Fang, Yue||Chang, P

publication date

  • July 2008