South Pacific Ocean climate dynamics and predictability

J Lou
The mechanisms and predictability of Pacific decadal climate variability (PDV) is an active area of research in climate science and is one of high societal importance. To date, most research into PDV has been focused on mechanisms and responses in the North Pacific. This thesis presents a comprehensive investigation, based on the development and application of a family of hierarchical stochastically forced models, of the mechanisms underpinning PDV climate predictability and that focuses on the
more » ... role of the South Pacific Ocean and coupling to the tropics. First, a simple one-dimensional first-order autoregressive (AR1) model was used to understand the space and time variations of the South Pacific decadal oscillation (SPDO) – which represents the leading sea surface temperature (SST) mode in the South Pacific. The analysis revealed that the first Pacific-South American (PSA1) pattern is the key atmospheric driver of the SPDO. Further, the leading mode of integrated subsurface upper ocean temperature variability was shown to match expectations from the propagation of oceanic Rossby waves across the extratropical South Pacific, with the atmospheric PSA variability providing the high-frequency 'noise' source of the observed low-frequency ('reddened') SST SPDO response. Second, the stochastically forced AR1 model was generalised to higher-dimensional fields with the inclusion of spatial features using a linear inverse model (LIM) approach. The deterministic dynamics underpinning the combined tropical and South Pacific system was investigated, with the seasonal predictive skill of the SPDO and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) quantified under the LIM framework. It was found that, although the oscillatory periods of ENSO and the SPDO are distinct – the former oscillating on interannual timescales and the latter oscillating on (inter-)decadal timescales – their damping time scales were very similar, and their predictive skill comparable. With the inclusion of subsurface processes in the extratropical South Pacific, th [...]
doi:10.25959/100.00039006 fatcat:g7melpgs7ff7lfe75sxappmlea