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Publication Date
1 January 2022

Response of Global SSTs and ENSO to the Atlantic and Pacific Meridional Overturning Circulations



Consequences from a slowdown or collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) could include modulations to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and development of the Pacific meridional overturning circulation (PMOC). Despite potential ramifications to the global climate, our understanding of the influence of various AMOC and PMOC states on ENSO and global sea surface temperatures (SSTs) remains limited. Five multicentennial, fully coupled model simulations created with the Community Earth SystemModel were used to explore the influence of AMOC and PMOC on global SSTs and ENSO.We found that the amplitude of annual cycle SSTs across the tropical Pacific decreases and ENSO amplitude increases as a result of an AMOC shutdown, irrespective of PMOC development. However, active deep overturning circulations in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins reduce ENSO amplitude and variance of monthly SSTs globally. The underlying physical reasons for changes to global SSTs and ENSO are also discussed, with the atmospheric and oceanic mechanisms that drive changes to ENSO amplitude differing based on PMOC state. These results suggest that if climate simulations projecting AMOC weakening are realized, compounding climate impacts could occur given the far-reaching ENSO teleconnections to extreme weather and climate events. More broadly, these results provide us with insight into past geologic era climate states, when PMOC was active.

Hu, Aixue, and Gerald A Meehl. 2022. “Response Of Global Ssts And Enso To The Atlantic And Pacific Meridional Overturning Circulations”. Journal Of Climate 35. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-21-0172.1.
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