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Warm temperatures in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean linked to cold conditions in the tropical Pacific

Interannual variability in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean can be explained by local ocean-atmosphere interactions, maintained and/or triggered by random forcing or by remote forcing originating mostly from the tropical Pacific Ocean through atmospheric equatorial teleconnections. To investigate how changes in equatorial atmospheric circulation influence the equatorial Atlantic climate, Illig et al. (2006) focused on an interannual warm event that occurred in this basin in the boreal spring-summer of 1996. Using observations and ensemble simulations from an intermediate coupled model developed partly by the authors, they analyzed the role of local coupled air-sea interactions versus tropical Pacific teleconnections. They found that persistent cold conditions in the tropical Pacific from 1995 to 1996 were favorable to the growth of local ocean-atmosphere feedbacks that led to the observed 1996 warming event in the equatorial Atlantic. The authors expect that further work will link other anomalous warm events in the equatorial Atlantic with cold conditions in the tropical Pacific.

Published: 02 May 2006

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Citation: Illig, S., D. Gushchina, B. Dewitte, N. Ayoub, and Y. du Penhoat (2006), The 1996 equatorial Atlantic warm event: Origin and mechanisms, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L09701, doi:10.1029/2005GL025632.

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