Knowing all the interactions of the tropical oceans helps to predict climatic phenomena

01 March 2019

BSC participates in this investigation, published in Science, that includes for the first time all the interactions, which will allow improving the climate models.

The improvement of climate prediction systems will allow anticipating the consequences of phenomena such as El Niño, which have high economic and human costs

An investigation presents for the first time a unified vision of the interactions that exist among tropical regions of the three oceans in different time scales. Knowing these connections in depth will allow the development of more reliable predictive climate models. This will make it possible to anticipate the consequences of phenomena such as El Niño, which have high economic and human costs.

The study, led by the Ocean University of China and in which the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid has participated, among others, has been published in Science.

One of the connections included in this paper is that of the ENSO phenomenon (El Niño–Southern Oscillation), in the Pacific Ocean, with climatic variations in the Atlantic and in the tropical Indian Ocean. El Niño is considered the engine of global climate, since the energy it releases into the atmosphere is capable of changing the global atmospheric circulation, modifying the climate of remote regions.

Yohan Ruprich, BSC researcher in the Climate Precition group, says that “our view on the tropical climate variability is changing. From a vision where the Pacific Ocean - nest of El Niño-Southern Oscillation - was the origin of most of tropical climate variations, we realize now that the Indian ocean and especially the Atlantic basin are keys to fully understand the recent tropical climate changes. This new vision raises tremendous potential for improving seasonal to decadal climate predictions as well as for improving projections of future climate change. The present paper aims to review our current view of the Pantropical climate interactions and its implications for climate prediction and projection”.

According to Marta Martín del Rey, one of the authors and researcher of the UCM at the time of the study and who currently works at the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC), "predicting the ENSO is one of the great challenges currently the scientific community has and in this article, we highlight the need to know the interactions that are established between the ENSO and similar events in other ocean basins. "

In addition to the one mentioned above, the study includes other connections that vary from one decade to another. For example, the warming of the tropical Atlantic from the 2000s causes a cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which seems to be responsible for the interruption (hiatus) of the global warming trend shown in recent studies.

You can read the UCM press release here.

Article: Wenju Cai et al. “Pan-tropical climate interactions”. Science. February 2019.

Caption: Image of the Pacific Ocean, where the temperature change of the ENSO occurs. / Mariano Mantel.