Locking of El Nino’s Peak Time to the End of the Calendar Year in the Delayed Oscillator Picture of ENSO
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Cane, Mark A.
Zebiak, Stephen E.
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CitationTziperman, Eli, Mark A. Cane, Stephen E. Zebiak, Yan Xue, and B. Blumenthal. 1998. Locking of El Nino's peak time to the end of the calendar year in the delayed oscillator picture of ENSO. Journal of Climate 11(9): 2191-2199.
AbstractEl Niño events owe their name to their tendency to be locked to the seasonal cycle. A simple explanation is proposed here for the locking of the peak of ENSO’s basin-scale warming to the end of the calendar year. The explanation is based on incorporating a seasonally varying coupled ocean–atmosphere instability strength into the delayed oscillator mechanism for the ENSO cycle. It is shown that the seasonally varying amplification of the Rossby and Kelvin ocean waves by the coupled instability forces the events to peak when this amplification is at its minimum strength, at the end of the calendar year. The mechanism is demonstrated using a simple delayed oscillator model and is further analyzed using the Cane–Zebiak model. Being based on the oversimplified delayed oscillator paradigm of ENSO, the proposed mechanism cannot be expected to fully explain the locking of observed events to the end of the year. However, the wave dynamics perspective it offers to approaching the ENSO phase-locking problem may serve as a first step toward a fuller explanation based on more realistic models and additional data analysis.
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