On the importance of subsurface variability for ENSO simulation and prediction with intermediate coupled models of the Tropical Pacific: A case study for the 1997-1998 El Niño.
Boris Dewitte, Dasha Gushchina, Yves duPenhoat, Sergey Lakeev
Two intermediate ocean-atmosphere coupled models of the tropical Pacific are used to investigate the sensitivity of the forecasts of the 1997-1998 El Niño to the configuration of the oceanic vertical structure. The models consist in a three baroclinic mode tropical Pacific Ocean and differ from their atmospheric part which is either a Gill (1980)'s tropical atmosphere or a statistical atmosphere. Forced with observed winds, the ocean model simulates dynamical fields in better agreement with observations compared to a single baroclinic mode model. In forecasting sea surface temperature anomalies in the eastern Pacific, the models are comparable to prediction systems of similar complexity. Results of sensitivity tests to the oceanic vertical structure indicate that the second baroclinic mode contribution is necessary to better capture the rise in SST anomalies from April 1997 along with the amplitude of the event at its mature phase.