The potential influence of falling ice radiative effects on Central-Pacific El Niño variability under progressive global warming

Li Chiao Wang, Jui Lin Frank Li, Kuan Man Xu, Lan Thi Dao, Wei Liang Lee, Jonathan H. Jiang, Eric Fetzer, Yi Hui Wang, Jia Yuh Yu, Chao An Chen

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2 Scopus citations


The impacts of falling ice (snow) radiative effects (FIREs) on simulated surface wind stress and sea surface temperature (SST) in Central Pacific El Niño (CP-El Niño) under a progressive warming climate are examined. Using controlled simulations with the CESM1 model, it is shown that the exclusion of FIREs (no snow: NOS) generates persistent westerly anomalies in surface wind stress relative to that with FIREs (snow on: SON). These anomalies subsequently lead to a weakening of the easterly trade winds associated with warmer SST anomalies in modeled life cycle. Results over three separated 40 year intervals (P1: 21–60 years; P2: 61–100 years; P3: 101–140 years) are compared with Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) models without FIREs. Both NOS configuration and CMIP5 models simulate longer life cycles of CP-El Niño events with weakening easterlies and warmer SST anomalies on the equator, persistently propagating eastward from the mature to dissipating phases. Compared to NOS, SON, on the other hand, produces a shorter CP-El Niño life cycle together with stronger easterlies and colder SSTs over the eastern to central equatorial Pacific. The magnitudes of the simulated westerlies and warm SST anomalies tend to diminish without eastward shifting following the peak of the CP-El Niño activity. There are substantial differences in CP-El Niño characteristics from P1 to P3 between NOS and SON. During P1, both SON and NOS show patterns which are consistent with their present-day counterparts. In P2 and P3, SON exhibits a prolonged CP-El Niño life cycle, while NOS develops a double-peak El Niño evolution at the mature and decaying phases. Regarding El Niño diversity and the projections, the CMIP5 models have not reached a consensus. The inclusion of the FIREs would increase the confidence in simulating El Niño future behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124062
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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