1159 Simulated Response of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to Climate Change

Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Liping Zhang, Princeton University, Plainsboro, NJ

The impact of climate change on the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is studied using a fully coupled climate model. The model results show that the PDO has a similar spatial pattern in altered climates, but its amplitude and time scale of variability change in response to global warming or cooling. In response to global warming the PDO amplitude is significantly reduced, with a maximum decrease over the Kuroshio-Oyashio-Extension (KOE) region. This reduction appears to be associated with a weakened meridional temperature gradient in the KOE region. In addition, reduced variability of North Pacific wind stress, partially due to reduced air-sea feedback, also helps to weaken the PDO amplitude by reducing the meridional displacements of the subtropical and subpolar gyre boundaries. In contrast, the PDO amplitude increases in response to global cooling.

In our control simulations the model PDO has an approximately bi-decadal peak. In a warmer climate the PDO timescale becomes shorter, changing from approximately 20 years to approximately 12 years. In a colder climate the timescale of the PDO increases to approximately 34 years. Physically, global warming (cooling) enhances (weakens) ocean stratification. The increased (decreased) ocean stratification acts to increase (reduce) the phase speed of internal Rossby waves, thereby altering the timescale of the simulated PDO.

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