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Geophysical Research Letters

Extratropical forcing of El Niño–Southern Oscillation asymmetry

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Abstract

[1] Boreal winter near-surface atmospheric circulations over the Hawaiian region are known to influence the state of the tropical Pacific and initiate the development of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. Here we show that these same preceding near-surface circulations have an additional influence on the longitudinal position of the resultant ENSO-related sea surface temperatures (SSTs) as well, with warm (cold) events systematically shifted to the east (west) of the typical SST anomalies. In influencing this positioning, these atmospheric circulations in turn modify the near- and far-field climate responses to these SSTs such that during warm events, the typical ENSO-related responses east (west) of the dateline are generally enhanced (reduced); conversely, during cold events, the typical ENSO-related responses are generally reduced (enhanced). The fact that the extratropical atmospheric circulations in question influence the asymmetry of ENSO extremes with a 12 month lead time carries important implications for predicting the socioeconomic impacts of these events.

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