• ENSO;
  • Atmosphere feedbacks;
  • CMIP3 GCMs


Several studies using ocean-atmosphere GCMs suggest that the atmospheric component plays a dominant role in the modelled ENSO. To help elucidate these findings, the two main atmosphere feedbacks relevant to ENSO, the Bjerknes positive feedback (µ) and the heat flux negative feedback (α), are analysed here in 12 coupled GCMs.

We find that the models generally underestimate both feedbacks, leading to an error compensation. The strength of α is inversely related to the ENSO amplitude in the models and the latent heat and shortwave flux components of this feedback dominate. Furthermore, the shortwave component could help explain the model diversity in both overall α and ENSO amplitude. Copyright © 2009 Royal Meteorological Society and Crown copyright.