Central-Pacific El Niño-Southern Oscillation less predictable under greenhouse warming
June 13,2024

Hui Chen, Yishuai Jin, Zhengyu Liu, Daoxun Sun, Xianyao Chen, Michael J. McPhaden, Antonietta Capotondi & Xiaopei Lin

Published in Nature Communications, May 2024

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant mode of interannual climate variability in the tropical Pacific, whose nature nevertheless may change significantly in a warming climate. Here, we show that the predictability of ENSO may decrease in the future. Across the models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6), we find a robust decrease of the persistence and predictability for the Central Pacific (CP) ENSO under global warming, notably in passing through the boreal spring. The strength of spring predictability barrier will be increased by 25% in the future. The reduced predictability of CP ENSO is caused by the faster warming over surface ocean in tropical Pacific and, in turn, the enhanced thermodynamical damping rate on CP ENSO in response to global warming. In contrast, the predictability of Eastern Pacific ENSO will not change. Our results suggest that future greenhouse warming will make the prediction of CP ENSO more challenging, with far-reaching implications on future climate predictions.

Chen, H., Jin, Y., Liu, Z. et al. Central-Pacific El Niño-Southern Oscillation less predictable under greenhouse warming. Nat Commun 15, 4370 (2024).

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