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Keywords:

  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation;
  • El Niño–Southern Oscillation

[1] The origin of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the leading mode of sea surface temperature variability for the North Pacific, is a matter of considerable debate. One paradigm views the PDO as an independent mode centered in the North Pacific, while another regards it as a largely reddened response to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forcing from the tropics. We calculate the Southern Hemisphere equivalent of the PDO index based on the leading mode of sea surface temperature variability for the South Pacific and find that it adequately explains the spatial structure of the PDO in the North Pacific. A first-order autoregressive model forced by ENSO is used to reproduce the observed PDO indices in the North and South Pacific. These results highlight the strong similarity in Pacific decadal variability on either side of the equator and suggest it may best be viewed as a reddened response to ENSO.