Pacific interdecadal climate variability: Linkages between the tropics and the North Pacific during boreal winter since 1900

  • Deser C
  • Phillips A
  • Hurrell J
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This study examines the tropical linkages to interdecadal climate fluctuations over the North Pacific during boreal winter through a comprehensive and physically based analysis of a wide variety of observational datasets spanning the twentieth century. Simple difference maps between epochs of high sea level pressure over the North Pacific (1900–24 and 1947–76) and epochs of low pressure (1925–46 and 1977–97) are presented for numerous climate variables throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region, including rainfall, cloudiness, sea surface temperature (SST), and sea level pressure. The results support the notion that the Tropics play a key role in North Pacific interdecadal climate variability. In particular, SST anomalies in the tropical Indian Ocean and southeast Pacific Ocean, rainfall and cloudiness anomalies in the vicinity of the South Pacific convergence zone, stratus clouds in the eastern tropical Pacific, and sea level pressure differences between the tropical southeast Pacific and Indian Oceans all exhibit prominent interdecadal fluctuations that are coherent with those in sea level pressure over the North Pacific. The spatial patterns of the interdecadal tropical climate anomalies are compared with those associated with ENSO, a predominantly interannual phenomenon; in general, the two are similar with some differences in relative spatial emphasis. Finally, a published 194-yr coral record in the western tropical Indian Ocean is shown to compare favorably with the twentieth-century instrumental records, indicating the potential for extending knowledge of tropical interdecadal climate variability to earlier time periods.

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  • Clara Deser

  • Adam S. Phillips

  • James W. Hurrell

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