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Evaluation of performance of CMIP5 models in simulating the North Pacific Oscillation and El Niño Modoki

Abstract

Previous observational studies have documented that the occurrence frequency of El Niño Modoki is closely linked to the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO). The present paper evaluates the relationships between the frequency of El Niño Modoki and the NPO in the historical runs of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) and examines the related physical processes. It is found that six of 25 CMIP5 models can reproduce both the spatial patterns of the NPO and El Niño Modoki. Four of these six models exhibit good performance in simulating the positive correlation between the NPO index and the frequency of El Niño Modoki. The analyses further show that the key physical processes determining the relationships between the NPO and the frequency of El Niño Modoki are the intensity of wind-evaporation-SST (WES) feedback in the subtropical northeastern North Pacific. This study enhances the understanding of the connections between the North Pacific mid-latitude climate system and El Niño Modoki, and has an important implication for the change of El Niño Modoki under global warming. If global warming favors to produce an oceanic and atmospheric pattern similar to the positive phase of the NPO in the North Pacific, more El Niño Modoki events will occur in the tropical Pacific with the assistance of the WES feedback processes.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the CAS/SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams, the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant no. XDA11010403), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant nos. 41422601, 41376025 and 41731173), the Leading Talents of Guangdong Province Program, the Pioneer Hundred Talents Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Program on Global Change and Air-Sea Interaction (GASI-IPOVAI-04). SWY was supported by the Korea Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under grant KMIPA2015-1042.

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Correspondence to Xin Wang.

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Wang, X., Chen, M., Wang, C. et al. Evaluation of performance of CMIP5 models in simulating the North Pacific Oscillation and El Niño Modoki. Clim Dyn 52, 1383–1394 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4196-1

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Keywords

  • El Niño Modoki
  • North Pacific Oscillation
  • CMIP5 climate models