On the frequency-wavenumber structure of the tropical ocean/atmosphere system

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Barnett, T. P. ; Latif, M. ; Graham, N. ; Flügel, M. (2011)

Simulations with an ocean general circulation model and a hybrid coupled model reproduce well the observed principal spatial mode (PSM) of variation of the tropical Pacific ocean/atmosphere system. The model results show the origins of the PSM to be a coupled ocean/atmosphere mode and suggest this phenomenon is not a natural mode of the tropical Pacific Basin alone. Air-sea interactions amplify the mode variability by a factor of 5–6 over the strength it would have in a purely random atmosphere and so it obtains climatological importance. These same interactions introduce the PSM to the atmosphere. The PSM of interannual variability is not directly driven by the annual cycle. But its time scale does depend importantly on the fact that the ocean-atmosphere coupling strength varies with respect to the annual cycle. The mode appears to be rather sharply peaked in wave number space but broadbanded in frequency space so that identifying it with a temporal designator, as has been done in the past is apt to be misleading.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0870.1995.00205.x
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