Impacts of canonical and Modoki El Nino on tropical Atlantic SST

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Dillon J. Amaya, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and G. R. Foltz

The impacts of canonical and Modoki El Niņo on tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) are quantified using composite analysis. Results show that El Niņo Modoki fails to produce significant warming in the tropical Atlantic, in contrast to the well known warming following canonical El Niņo events. El Niņo Modoki instead induces significant cooling in the northeastern tropical Atlantic and near-neutral conditions elsewhere in the tropical Atlantic. It is shown that the difference in SST response stems from a much stronger Pacific/North American (PNA) teleconnection pattern and stronger atmospheric Kelvin wave response during canonical events compared to Modoki. The stronger PNA pattern and Kelvin waves during canonical events generate anomalously weak surface winds in the tropical North Atlantic, driving anomalously weak evaporative cooling and warmer SSTs. Past research has shown a growing frequency of non-canonical El Niņos relative to canonical events. If such a trend continues, it is likely that the impact of El Niņo on tropical Atlantic climate and hurricane activity will diminish.