Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction, the Pacific Cold Tongue, and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation

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Science  04 Oct 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5284, pp. 76-78
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5284.76


The tropical Pacific basin allows strong feedbacks among the trade winds, equatorial zonal sea surface temperature contrast, and upper ocean heat content. Coupled atmosphere-ocean dynamics produce both the strong Pacific cold tongue climate state and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon. A simple paradigm of the tropical climate system is presented, capturing the basic physics of these two important aspects of the tropic Pacific and basic features of the climate states of the Atlantic and Indian ocean basins.

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