Dynamic Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling: A Thermostat for the Tropics

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Science  24 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5265, pp. 1148-1150
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5265.1148


The ocean currents connecting the western tropical Pacific Ocean with the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean are driven by surface winds. The surface winds are in turn driven by the sea-surface temperature (SST) differences between these two regions. This dynamic coupling between the atmosphere and ocean may limit the SST in the tropical Pacific Ocean to below 305 kelvin even in the absence of cloud feedbacks.