EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water Controlled by the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Variability

Baolan wu1, Xiaopei lin1, and Lisan yu2
Baolan wu et al.
  • 1Physical Oceanography Laboratory/College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China (
  • 2Department of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, United

The North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water (mode water hereafter) is a vertically homogeneous thermocline water mass, occupying the entire subtropical Western Pacific Ocean. By transporting mass, heat and nutrients from the surface into the subsurface ocean, it provides memory of climate variability and is a potential source of predictability. Previous studies attributed decadal variability of the mode water mean temperature to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Using available observations and reanalysis data, here we show that decadal to multi-decadal variability of the mode water mean temperature is controlled by the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Variability (AMV) instead. During an AMV positive phase, warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the north Atlantic Ocean weaken the subtropical North Pacific westerlies, and the anomalous easterlies in the subtropical west Pacific drive an anomalous northward Ekman transport of warm water into the mode water formation area. This increases the mode water temperature through subduction, driving variability of the upper-layer ocean heat content and fish catches in the Northwestern Pacific. This mechanism is supported by a long pre-industrial model simulation with multiple AMV cycles and by a Pacemaker model experiment, in which the AMV forcing alone is shown to drive the variability of the mode water. Our finding suggests that the AMV is an important driver for decadal climate and ecosystem variability and provides memory for prediction in the Pacific Ocean.

How to cite: wu, B., lin, X., and yu, L.: North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water Controlled by the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Variability, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-235,, 2019


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