Tropical cyclones act to intensify El Niño
August 30,2019

Published in Nature Communications 22 August 2019

Tropical cyclones (TCs), some of the most influential weather events across the globe, are modulated by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). However, little is known about the feedback of TCs on ENSO. Here, observational and modelling evidence shows that TC activity in the southeastern western North Pacific can affect the Niño-3.4 index 3 months later. Increased TC activity in July–September can significantly contribute to the intensity of ENSO in October–December by weakening the Walker circulation and enhancing eastward-propagating oceanic Kelvin waves in the tropical Pacific. Thus, the greater the accumulated cyclone energy, the stronger (weaker) the El Niño (La Niña). A new physics-based empirical model for ENSO is constructed that significantly outperforms current models in predicting ENSO intensity from July to December and addressing the problem about the target period slippage of ENSO. Results suggest that TCs may provide significant cross-scale feedback to ENSO.

Wang, Q., Li, J., Jin, F. et al. Tropical cyclones act to intensify El Niño. Nat Commun 10, 3793 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41467-019-11720-w

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