EGU24-1969, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Crucial role of ocean dynamics for the CMIP models equatorial Pacific warming pattern diversity

Vincent Danielli1, Matthieu Lengaigne1, Sadhvi Kwatra2, Gopika Suresh2,3, and Jérome Vialard4
Vincent Danielli et al.
  • 1MARBEC, University of Montpellier, CNRS, IFREMER, IRD, Sete, France
  • 2School of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric sciences, Goa university, Goa, India
  • 3CSIR- National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India
  • 4LOCEAN/IPSL, Sorbonne Universités (UPMC, Univ Paris 06)-CNRS-IRD-MNHN, France

Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) projections indicate a distinct future warming pattern in the tropical Pacific, with enhanced warming in the equatorial Pacific (resembling El Niño warming) and subdued warming in the southeast tropical Pacific. There is currently no consensus on the mechanisms shaping this pattern and its inter-model diversity.

Here, we employ the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) heat budget proposed by Zhang and Li (2014, ZL14), adapted to Relative SST (SST minus its tropical average), a proxy for atmospheric stability and circulation changes. This approach helps uncover the mechanisms that shape the tropical Pacific Multi-Model Mean (MMM) warming pattern and its diversity across historical and unmitigated scenario (RCP85 and SSP585) simulations from 53 CMIP5 and CMIP6 models.

We find that the MMM southeast Pacific relative cooling arises from locally intensified winds, leading to increased latent heat flux cooling. This process also explains the inter-model diversity in this region, alongside the diversity of cloud feedbacks.

Consistent with ZL14 conclusions, our results underscore that the MMM equatorial Pacific relative warming results from a less efficient evaporative cooling feedback over the climatologically cooler central and eastern Pacific. However, our study highlights a pivotal role of ocean dynamics in driving the equatorial Pacific relative warming inter-model diversity. In the eastern Pacific, this diversity is related to the cold tongue bias, with a stronger cold tongue bias leading to a more efficient thermostat mechanism that dampens the MMM relative warming. In the western Pacific, diversity is related to the intensity of the equatorial trade winds relaxation, with stronger westerly anomalies leading to enhanced warming, suggesting a strong role of the Bjerknes feedback.

These results advocate for more comprehensive studies using dynamical approaches to better understand the respective roles of the Bjerknes feedback and cold tongue bias in the equatorial Pacific warming pattern and, ultimately, in the Walker Circulation changes.

How to cite: Danielli, V., Lengaigne, M., Kwatra, S., Suresh, G., and Vialard, J.: Crucial role of ocean dynamics for the CMIP models equatorial Pacific warming pattern diversity, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-1969,, 2024.