Influence of winter Arctic sea ice concentration change on the El Niño–Southern Oscillation in the following winter

  • Shangfeng ChenEmail author
  • Renguang Wu
  • Wen Chen
  • Bin Yu


The present study reveals a close connection between the winter Arctic sea ice concentration (ASIC) change over the Greenland–Barents Seas (GBS) and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the following winter. When there is more winter ASIC over the GBS, an El Niño-like sea surface temperature (SST) warming tends to occur in the tropical central-eastern Pacific (TCEP) during the following winter. It is found that the winter ASIC increase over the GBS triggers an atmospheric wave train propagating southeastward from the high latitude Eurasia towards the subtropical North Pacific, with cyclonic wind anomalies over the subtropical North Pacific. A barotropic model experiment with anomalous convergence prescribed around the GBS reproduces reasonably well the atmospheric wave train. The induced spring SST warming and associated anomalous atmospheric heating over the subtropical North Pacific play an essential role in the formation and maintenance of lower-level westerly wind anomalies over the western tropical Pacific. These westerly wind anomalies induce SST warming in the TCEP during the following summer via triggering an eastward propagating equatorial warm Kelvin wave. The summer TCEP SST warming further develops into an El Niño event in the following winter via a Bjerknes-like positive air–sea feedback process. This result suggests that the winter ASIC change around the GBS is a potential predictor of the ENSO events with a lead time of 1 year.


Arctic sea ice ENSO Atmospheric wave train Westerly winds 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions and comments, which help to improve the paper. This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Grants (41605050, 41530425, and 41775080), and the Young Elite Scientists Sponsorship Program by the China Association for Science and Technology (2016QNRC001).

Supplementary material

382_2019_5027_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1719 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Earth SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Climate Research DivisionEnvironment and Climate Change CanadaTorontoCanada
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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