National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2021

Decadal climate variability in the tropical Pacific: Characteristics, causes, predictability and prospects

Power, S., M. Lengaigne, A. Capotondi, S. McGregor, M. Khodri, J. Vialard, J.-S. Kug, B. Jebri, M. Newman, M.J. McPhaden, G. Meehl, D. Smith, J. Cole, M. Collins, E. Guilyardi, G.-I. Kim, W. Cai, Y. Okumura, F. Delage, K. Cobb, C. Chung, A. Wittenberg, P. Braconnot, J. Cretat, R. Garreaud, A. Levine, Y. Planton, J. Emile-Geay, R. Séférian, F. Zhu, R. Colman, G.-I. Kim, J. Sprintall, D. Vimont, G. Wang, X. Zhang, J.-J. Luo, J. Emile-Geay, X. Lin, M. Balmaseda, K. Slava, G. Boer, G. Liguori, E. Di Lorenzo, B. Henley, and A. Timmermann

Science, 374(6563), eaay9165, doi: 10.1126/science.aay9165, View online (2021)

Climate variability in the tropical Pacific affects global climate on a wide range of time scales. On interannual time scales, the tropical Pacific is home to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Decadal variations and changes in the tropical Pacific, referred to here collectively as tropical Pacific decadal variability (TPDV), also profoundly affect the climate system. Here, we use TPDV to refer to any form of decadal climate variability or change that occurs in the atmosphere, the ocean, and over land within the tropical Pacific. “Decadal,” which we use in a broad sense to encompass multiyear through multidecadal time scales, includes variability about the mean state on decadal time scales, externally forced mean-state changes that unfold on decadal time scales, and decadal variations in the behavior of higher-frequency modes like ENSO.

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