A discrepancy remains in the first two leading empirical orthogonal function (EOF) modes of the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) based on observations since the 1980s. The EOF1 mode, representing the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), is a robust result. However, the EOF2 features either El Niño Modoki (EM) or ENSO evolution during different periods, which is probably associated with the impacts of global warming. The underlying question is what the EOF2 mode of the tropical Pacific would be without global warming. Using the CMIP5 preindustrial scenario to exclude the influence of global warming, we find that the EOF1 mode of the tropical Pacific SSTA represents ENSO and that the EOF2 mode is not EM. According to the lead–lag correlation between the ENSO and EOF2 modes, the linkage between these two modes is as follows: …El Niño → EOF2 → La Niña → –EOF2 → El Niño…. By analyzing the evolution of sea surface temperature, surface wind, and subsurface ocean temperature anomalies, we find the mechanism linking the ENSO and EOF2 modes is the air–sea interaction associated with the ENSO cycle. This result suggests that the EOF2 mode represents an aspect of ENSO evolution under preindustrial conditions. Therefore, this study further indicates that the EM is probably due to the influence of global warming.
The cold tongue mode (CTM), which represents the out-of-phase relationship in sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) variability between the Pacific cold tongue region and elsewhere in the tropical Pacific, shows a long-term cooling trend in the eastern equatorial Pacific. In this study, we investigate how well the CTM is reproduced in historical simulations generated by the 20 models considered in Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Qualitatively, all 20 models roughly capture the cooling SSTA associated with the CTM. However, a quantitative assessment (i.e., Taylor diagrams and the ratio of the trend between the simulations and observations) shows that only five of these 20 models (i.e., CESM1-CAM5, CMCC-CM, FGOALS-g2, IPSL-CM5B-LR, and NorESM1-M) can reproduce with useful accuracy the spatial pattern and long-term trend of the CTM. We find that these five models generally simulate the main ocean dynamical process associated with the CTM. That is, these models adequately capture the long-term cooling trend in the vertical advection of the anomalous temperature by the mean upwelling. We conclude that the performance of these CMIP5 models, with respect to simulations of the long-term cooling trend associated with the vertical advection, and the related long-term decreasing trend of the vertical gradient of the oceanic temperature anomaly, can play an important role in successful reproduction of the CTM.
The wind and temperature fields at 20 to 55 km above the Antigua launch site (17°N, 61°W) were analyzed by using sounding rocket data published by the research organization on Stratosphere-Troposphere Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC). The results showed distinct variations in the wind and temperature fields at different heights from the 1960s to the 1990s. The overall zonal wind speed showed a significant increasing trend with the year, and the overall change in meridional wind speed showed a falling trend from 1976 to 1990, whereas the temperature field showed a significant cooling trend from 1964 to 1990. The times the trends mutated varied at different levels. By taking the altitudes at 20, 35, and 50 km as representatives, we found that the zonal wind speed trend had mutated in 1988, 1986, and 1986, respectively; that the meridional wind speed trend had mutated in 1990, 1986, and 1990, respectively; and that the temperature trend had mutated separately in 1977, 1973, and 1967, respectively. Characteristics of the periodic wind and temperature field variations at different heights were also analyzed, and obvious differences were found in time scale variations across the different layers. The zonal and meridional wind fields were basically characterized as having a significant periodic variation of 5 years across the three layers, and each level was characterized as having a periodic variation of less than 5 years. Temperature field variation at the three levels was basically characterized as occurring in 10-year and 5-year cycles.