An Advective-Reflective Conceptual Model for the Oscillatory Nature of the ENSO

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Science  01 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5326, pp. 663-666
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5326.663

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Recent findings about zonal displacements of the Pacific warm pool required a notable modification of the delayed action oscillator theory, the current leading theory for the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Simulations with a linearized coupled ocean-atmosphere model resulted in 3- to 6-year ENSO-like oscillations, with many of the variable model parameters found to be very close to their observed values. This simple model suggests that ocean processes that are ignored or underestimated in the delayed action oscillator theory, such as zonal current convergence, zonal advection of sea surface temperature, and equatorial wave reflection from the eastern ocean boundary, are fundamental to the development of the ENSO, in particular to its manifestations in the central equatorial Pacific.

  • Present address: Groupe de Recherche en Géodésie Spatiale, 14 avenue Edouard Belin, 31401, Toulouse, France.

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