Modeling El Niño and its tropical teleconnections during the last glacial-interglacial cycle

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Abstract

[1] Simulations with the NCAR Climate System Model (CSM), a global, coupled ocean-atmosphere-sea ice model, for the last glacial-interglacial cycle reproduce recent estimates, based on alkenones and Mg/Ca ratios, of sea surface temperature (SST) changes and gradients in the tropical Pacific and predict weaker El Niños/La Niñas compared to present for the Holocene and stronger El Niños/La Niñas for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Changes for the LGM (Holocene) are traced to a weakening (strengthening) of the tropical Pacific zonal SST gradient, wind stresses, and upwelling and a sharpening (weakening) of the tropical thermocline. Results suggest that proxy evidence of weaker precipitation variability in New Guinea and Ecuador are explained not only by changes in El Niño/La Niña but also changes in the atmospheric circulation and hydrologic cycle.

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