A mechanism for generating ENSO decadal variability

Richard Kleeman, Julian P. McCreary, Barry A. Klinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A coupled ocean-atmosphere model of the Pacific basin is used to illustrate a mechanism by which El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) may be modulated on decadal time scales. For reasonable choices of model parameters, solutions exhibit two types of oscillation, an ENSO-like interannual mode and a decadal one. The decadal mode affects the equatorial zone by means of an oceanic teleconnection that involves transport variations of the North Pacific Subtropical Cell. Since almost half of the cool, thermocline water that upwells in the eastern equatorial Pacific participates in this cell, these variations significantly alter the extent of the cold tongue, and hence provide an efficient mechanism for modulating ENSO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1743-1746
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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