The Role of Equatorial Ocean Circulation Feedbacks in the Dynamics of Enso Diversity

Project Details


El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most substantial interannual variability in our climate system. It is strongly involved in many atmosphere-ocean coupled dynamics in the equatorial area. Moreover, the interactions between ENSO and other climatic phenomena also bring serious impacts to global climate and weather system through a direct or indirect way. Therefore, understanding and well predicting ENSO dynamics is very crucial in climatic research. The equatorial circulation system is found to play a key role in the evolution of ENSO. In the ENSO Recharge Oscillator (Jin, 1997), the phase transition of ENSO is jointly controlled by the zonal advection driven by the equatorial zonal currents and the thermocline feedback driven by the equatorial mean upwelling. The thermocline feedback resulted from equatorial mean upwelling also serves as the main contributor to the growth rate of ENSO. Conversely, the equatorial circulation system is also tightly impacted by the dynamics of ENSO diversity. According to previous studies, the equatorial circulations tend to have very different features under different flavors of ENSO evolutions. In brief, there is two-way relationship between the ENSO diversity evolution and the equatorial circulation system. This study is aimed at exploring this so called “impacted and feedback” relationship between ENSO and equatorial circulation system, through building a theory in observations and diagnosing in CMIP5/6 coupled models. Based on these analyses, we would like to develop a theoretical model of ENSO concerning the feedbacks of equatorial circulations and upwelling system. Hopefully this theoretical model will make a significant progress in characterizing ENSO features and solving more substantial climatic problems.
Effective start/end date1/08/2031/07/21

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
  • ENSO Diversity
  • Recharge Oscillator
  • Equatorial circulation system
  • Upwelling
  • Zonal Advection
  • Thermocline Feedback


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