Potential tropical Atlantic impacts on Pacific decadal climate trends

Y. Chikamoto, T. Mochizuki, A. Timmermann, M. Kimoto, M. Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


The tropical Pacific cooling from the early 1990s to 2013 has contributed to the slowdown of globally averaged sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The origin of this regional cooling trend still remains elusive. Here we demonstrate that the remote impact of Atlantic SST anomalies, as well as local atmosphere-ocean interactions, contributed to the eastern Pacific cooling during this period. By assimilating observed three-dimensional Atlantic temperature and salinity anomalies into a coupled general circulation model, we are able to qualitatively reproduce the observed Pacific decadal trends of SST and sea level pressure (SLP), albeit with reduced amplitude. Although a major part of the Pacific SLP trend can be explained by equatorial Pacific SST forcing only, the origin of this low-frequency variability can be traced back further to the remote impacts of equatorial Atlantic and South Atlantic SST trends. Atlantic SST impacts on the atmospheric circulation can also be detected for the Northeastern Pacific, thus providing a linkage between Atlantic climate and Western North American drought conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7143-7151
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 16 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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