Variation of mean sea surface temperature and modulation of El Nino-Southern Oscillation variance during the past 150 years Academic Article uri icon


  • Evidence is presented that the dominant non-trend mode of interdecadal global SST variations is linked to significant modulation of ENSO variance during the past 150 years. The mode resembles the interhemispheric SST pattern linked to Sahel rainfall changes, with colder northern hemisphere conditions co-incident with higher ENSO variance. Simulations of an intermediate coupled global climate model demonstrate that this global SST pattern can drive the interdecadal changes to ENSO variance. The influence on the ENSO dynamics comes primarily from the portion of the SST change local to the tropical Pacific, which is warm over the entire equatorial Pacific particularly in the southeast during times of stronger ENSO activity. We speculate that the warming equatorial SST causes ENSO events occur earlier and thus have longer time to develop, as well as enhancing the vertical temperature gradient and thus increasing the effectiveness of oceanic entrainment. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Fang, Y., Chiang, J., & Chang, P.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

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

publication date

  • July 2008