The Impact of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation and Atlantic Meridional Mode on Seasonal Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) activity is influenced by interannual tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability characterized by the El NioSouthern Oscillation (ENSO), as well as interannual-to-decadal variability in the interhemispheric gradient in tropical Atlantic SST characterized by the Atlantic meridional mode (AMM). Individually, the negative AMM phase (cool northern and warm southern tropical Atlantic SST anomalies) and El Nio each inhibit Atlantic TCs, and vice versa. The impact of concurrent strong phases of the ENSO and AMM on Atlantic TC activity is investigated. The response of the atmospheric environment relevant for TCs is evaluated with a genesis potential index. Composites of observed accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) suggest that ENSO and AMM can amplify or dampen the influence of one another on Atlantic TCs. To support the observational analysis, numerical simulations are performed using a 27-km resolution regional climate model. The control simulation uses observed SST and lateral boundary conditions (LBCs) of 19802000, and perturbed experiments are forced with ENSO phases through LBCs and eastern tropical Pacific SST and AMM phases through Atlantic SST. Simultaneous strong El Nio and strongly positive AMM, as well as strong concurrent La Nia and negative AMM, produce near-average Atlantic ACE suggesting compensation between the two influences, consistent with the observational analysis. Strong La Nia and strongly positive AMM together produce extremely intense Atlantic TC activity, supported largely by above average midtropospheric humidity, while strong El Nio and negative AMM together are not necessary conditions for significantly reduced Atlantic tropical cyclone activity.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 6.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Patricola, C. M., Saravanan, R., & Chang, P.

citation count

  • 64

complete list of authors

  • Patricola, Christina M||Saravanan, R||Chang, Ping

publication date

  • January 1, 2014 11:11 AM