Upper-Ocean Salinity Variability in the Tropical Pacific: Case Study for Quasi-Decadal Shift during the 2000s Using TRITON Buoys and Argo Floats
Journal of Climate
Upper-ocean salinity variation in the tropical Pacific is investigated during the 2000s, when Triangle Trans-Ocean Buoy Network (TRITON) buoys and Argo floats were deployed and more salinity data were observed than in previous periods. This study focuses on upper-ocean salinity variability during the warming period of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-like quasi-decadal (QD)-scale sea surface temperature anomalies over the central equatorial Pacific (January 2002-December 2005; hereafter
... 005; hereafter "warm QD phase"). It is shown that strong negative salinity anomalies occur in the western tropical Pacific and the off-equatorial Pacific in the upper ocean at depths less than 80 m, showing a horseshoe-like pattern centered at the western tropical Pacific during the warm QD phase. TRITON mooring buoy data in the western equatorial Pacific show that low-salinity and high-temperature water could be transported eastward from the western equatorial Pacific to the central equatorial Pacific during the warm QD phase. Similar patterns, but with the opposite sign of salinity anomalies, appear in the cold QD phase during with negative sea surface temperature anomalies over the central equatorial Pacific. It is suggested that effects from zonal salinity advection and precipitation could contribute to the generation of the salinity variations in the western equatorial Pacific for QD phases during the 2000s. On the other hand, the contribution of meridional salinity advection is much less than that of zonal salinity advection. In addition, El Niño Modoki and La Niña events could affect salinity changes for warm and cold QD phases via interannual-scale zonal salinity advection variations in the western equatorial Pacific during the 2000s.