Adjustment of the Remote Tropical Climate to El Niño Conditions Academic Article uri icon


  • The correlation between parameters characterizing observed westerly wind bursts (WWBs) in the equatorial Pacific and the large-scale SST is analyzed using singular value decomposition. The WWB parameters include the amplitude, location, scale, and probability of occurrence for a given SST distribution rather than the wind stress itself. This approach therefore allows for a nonlinear relationship between the SST and the wind signal of the WWBs. It is found that about half of the variance of the WWB parameters is explained by only two large-scale SST modes. The first mode represents a developed El Niño event, while the second mode represents the seasonal cycle. More specifically, the central longitude of WWBs, their longitudinal extent, and their probability seem to be determined to a significant degree by the ENSO-driven signal. The amplitude of the WWBs is found to be strongly influenced by the phase of the seasonal cycle. It is concluded that the WWBs, while partially stochastic, seem an inherent part of the large-scale deterministic ENSO dynamics. Implications for ENSO predictability and prediction are discussed.

publication date

  • June 2007