Jun 2, 2016

Initialized decadal prediction for transition to positive phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation

Gerald A. Meehl, Aixue Hu, Haiyan Teng
Nature Communications



The negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), a dominant mode of multi-decadal variability of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Pacific, contributed to the reduced rate of global surface temperature warming in the early 2000s. A proposed mechanism for IPO multidecadal variability indicates that the presence of decadal timescale upper ocean heat content in the off-equatorial western tropical Pacific can provide conditions for an interannual El Niño/Southern Oscillation event to trigger a transition of tropical Pacific SSTs to the opposite IPO phase. Here we show that a decadal prediction initialized in 2013 simulates predicted Niño3.4 SSTs that have qualitatively tracked the observations through 2015. The year three to seven average prediction (2015–2019) from the 2013 initial state shows a transition to the positive phase of the IPO from the previous negative phase and a resumption of larger rates of global warming over the 2013–2022 period consistent with a positive IPO phase.