Arctic Sea Ice Loss as a Potential Trigger for Central Pacific El Niño Events

Hyerim Kim, Sang Wook Yeh, Soon Il An, Jae Heung Park, Baek Min Kim, Eun Hyuk Baek

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Little attention has been paid to the influence of Arctic sea ice loss on climate variability in the tropical Pacific. By analyzing observational data sets, we hypothesized that anomalous Arctic sea ice concentration variations have the potential to influence tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability via atmosphere-ocean coupled processes in the eastern subtropical North Pacific. To test this hypothesis, we conducted idealized model experiments with 15 ensembles in which historical SSTs for 1951–2016 were restored in the Arctic only with different initial conditions. We found that a positive phase of North Pacific Oscillation-like atmospheric circulation, which is modulated by a sea ice reduction in the Pacific Arctic sector, triggers El Niño-like warming in the central tropical Pacific. This implies that connections between the Arctic and the tropics should be considered for further understanding of changes in El Niño and other tropical Pacific climate variability in a changing climate.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL087028
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 16

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The observational SST data were downloaded (from The NCEP/NCAR R1 data sets were obtained (from The SIC data used in this study are from NOAA/NSIDC (available at This work was supported by National Research Foundation Grant NRF-2018R1A5A1024958.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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