A Theory for El Niño and the Southern Oscillation

Cane, Mark A.; Zebiak, Stephen E.

A coupled atmosphere-ocean model is presented for El Niño and the Southern Oscillation that reproduces its major features, including its recurrence at irregular intervals. The interannual El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycle is maintained by deterministic interactions in the tropical Pacific region. Ocean dynamics alter sea-surface temperature, changing the atmospheric heating; the resulting changes in surface wind alter the ocean dynamics. Annually varying mean conditions largely determine the spatial pattern and temporal evolution of El Niño events.


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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
March 29, 2012