Future high-resolution El Niño/Southern Oscillation dynamics
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Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could weaken the cyclical movement of warm water around the eastern equatorial Pacific ocean, which is responsible for the El Niño and La Nina phases that bring either hot and dry or cool and wet conditions to Asia–Pacific and South America.
Current climate models don’t adequately capture all the variables that influence the frequency and intensity of El Niño/Southern Oscillation events. This has made it difficult to examine how global warming will affect these weather systems.
Now, a team led by researchers from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in South Korea has altered atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in a high-resolution model of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation system.
Their modelling suggests that a quadrupling of carbon dioxide would significantly reduce the variability in sea surface temperatures that characterize the weather pattern, but it may also dampen ocean currents that normally suppress the variability.
- Nature Climate Change 11, 758–765 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41558-021-01132-4