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Capotondi A. (January 2010): El Niño–Southern Oscillation ocean dynamics: Simulation by coupled general circulation models. In: Climate Dynamics: Why Does Climate Vary? Geophys.Monogr. Ser., 189 . AGU, Washington, DC, 105-122. ISBN 978-0-87590-480-1

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The temporal evolution and spatial pattern of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is examined in seven state-of-the-art climate models in light of simple dynamical paradigms for ENSO. In general, the simulation of ENSO has improved in the present generation of climate models, with respect to previous generations, and the evolution of the upper ocean heat content is consistent with some of the leading dynamical paradigms. Unrealistic features of the model ENSO include the spatial structure of interannual sea surface temperature (SST) variations, as well as the time evolution of interannual variability. Standard deviations of interannual SST anomalies do not maximize close to the western coast of South America, as found in nature, and extend too far west along the equator. In most of the models included in this study, ENSO events occur more frequently and more regularly than they do in nature. The comparison of two climate models with different dominant ENSO time scales, one longer and closer to observations and the other much shorter than observed, shows that the spatial structure of the anomalous wind stress during ENSO events, in particular the meridional scale of the zonal wind stress anomalies, may play a key role in setting the ENSO time scale.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1029/2008GM000796