The ocean-atmosphere coupling in the northeastern subtropical Pacific is dominated by a Pacific meridional mode (PMM), which spans between the extratropical and tropical Pacific and plays an important role in connecting extratropical climate variability to the occurrence of El Niño. Analyses of observational data and numerical model experiments were conducted to demonstrate that the PMM (and the subtropical Pacific coupling) experienced a rapid strengthening in the early 1990s and that this strengthening is related to an intensification of the subtropical Pacific high caused by a phase change of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO). This PMM strengthening favored the development of more central Pacific (CP)-type El Niño events. The recent shift from more conventional eastern Pacific (EP) to more CP-type El Niño events can thus be at least partly understood as a Pacific Ocean response to a phase change in the AMO.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science