Using the output of 12 models from the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project Phase 3, we investigate the feedback process responsible for changes in El Niño-Southern Oscillation activity during the mid-Holocene based on a linear stability index (Bjerknes stability index; BJ index) analysis. The multi-model ensemble mean (MME) variance of the Niño-3.4 index (sea surface temperature anomalies averaged over 5°S–5°N, 170°–120°W) simulated for 6000 years ago (6 kya) was 13% lower than that for the pre-industrial era (0 kya), while changes in the MME BJ index were negligible. This is due to a balance between enhanced damping by anomalous thermal advection by mean currents (MA) and enhanced positive thermocline feedback (TH). Seven of the models show that MME variance of the Niño-3.4 and BJ indexes for the 6 kya run is 21 and 70% lower, respectively, than the 0 kya run. However, two models show the opposite change. Interestingly, MA in both model groups increases, especially due to the mean meridional current associated with enhanced trade winds, indicating a robust mechanism. The opposite tendency between the two groups is mainly due to large TH in the second group 6 kya, as a result of enhanced air-sea coupling and strongly reduced ocean stratification due to subsurface warming, which led to increased sensitivity of the zonal thermocline contrast to surface zonal wind stress.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science