National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1991

El Niño-Southern Oscillation displacements of the western equatorial Pacific warm pool

McPhaden, M.J., and J. Picaut

Science, 250, 1385–1388, doi: 10.1126/science.250.4986.1385 (1990)

The western equatorial Pacific warm pool (sea-surface temperatures >29°C) was observed to migrate eastward across the date line during the 1986-1987 El Niño-Southern Oscillation event. Direct velocity measurements made in the upper ocean from 1986 to 1988 indicate that this migration was associated with a prolonged reversal in the South Equatorial Current forced by a large-scale relaxation of the trade winds. The data suggest that wind-forced zonal advection plays an important role in the thermodynamics of the western Pacific warm pool on interannual time scales.

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