The Influence of ENSO Flavors on Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclone Activity

Patricola, Christina M.; Camargo, Suzana J.; Klotzbach, Philip J.; Saravanan, R.; Chang, Ping

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a major source of seasonal western North Pacific (WNP) tropical cyclone (TC) predictability. However, the spatial characteristics of ENSO have changed in recent decades, from warming more typically in the eastern equatorial Pacific during canonical or cold tongue El Niño to warming more typically in the central equatorial Pacific during noncanonical or warm pool El Niño. We investigated the response in basinwide WNP TC activity and spatial clustering of TC tracks to the location and magnitude of El Niño using observations, TC-permitting tropical channel model simulations, and a TC track clustering methodology. We found that simulated western North Pacific TC activity, including accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) and the number of typhoons and intense typhoons, is more effectively enhanced by sea surface temperature warming of the central, compared to the eastern, equatorial Pacific. El Niño also considerably influenced simulated TC tracks regionally, with a decrease in TCs that were generated near the Asian continent and an increase in clusters that were dominated by TC genesis in the southeastern WNP. This response corresponds with the spatial pattern of reduced vertical wind shear and is most effectively driven by central Pacific SST warming. Finally, internal atmospheric variability generated a substantial range in the simulated season total ACE (±25% of the median). However, extremely active WNP seasons were linked with El Niño, rather than internal atmospheric variability, in both observations and climate model simulations.


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Also Published In

Journal of Climate

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
March 26, 2019


Keywords: North Pacific Ocean; ENSO; Tropical cyclones; Climate prediction; Climate variability