Interannual ENSO variability forced through coupled atmosphere-ocean feedback loops



[1] El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events are known to force atmospheric teleconnections that impact extratropical sea surface temperatures and surface winds. In this paper we use focused model experiments to investigate whether this extratropical variability can feedback to, and significantly impact, the Tropics through ocean Rossby waves. We use an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a reduced gravity Pacific Ocean model to isolate these potential feedback loops and quantify their impact on ENSO variability. We find that anomalous winds and heat fluxes located in regions of maximum mean subduction in the subtropical North Pacific trigger ocean Rossby waves that take approximately four years to reach the equator. Most notably, we demonstrate that this feedback loop causes a primarily 2-year ENSO, when only the Tropics is coupled, to shift to a more realistic broad 2–5 year range by damping ∼2 year variability and amplifying ∼4 year variability.