Western pacific warm pool and ENSO asymmetry in CMIP3 models

Sun, Yan; Sun, De-Zheng; Wu, Lixin; Wang, Fan
May 2013
Advances in Atmospheric Sciences;May2013, Vol. 30 Issue 3, p940
Academic Journal
Theoretical and empirical studies have suggested that an underestimate of the ENSO asymmetry may be accompanied by a climatologically smaller and warmer western Pacific warm pool. In light of this suggestion, simulations of the tropical Pacific climate by 19 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 (CMIP3) climate models that do not use flux adjustment were evaluated. Our evaluation revealed systematic biases in both the mean state and ENSO statistics. The mean state in most of the models had a smaller and warmer warm pool. This common bias in the mean state was accompanied by a common bias in the simulated ENSO statistics: a significantly weak asymmetry between the two phases of ENSO. Moreover, despite the generally weak ENSO asymmetry simulated by all models, a positive correlation between the magnitude of the bias in the simulated warm-pool size and the magnitude of the bias in the simulated ENSO asymmetry was found. These findings support the suggested link between ENSO asymmetry and the tropical mean state-the climatological size and temperature of the warm pool in particular. Together with previous studies, these findings light up a path to improve the simulation of the tropical Pacific mean state by climate models: enhancing the asymmetry of ENSO in the climate models.


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