Capotondi, A., P. D. Sardeshmukh, E. Di Lorenzo, A. Subramanian and A. J. Miller, 2019:

Predictability of US West Coast Ocean Temperatures is not solely due to ENSO

Scientific Reports, 9, 10993.

Abstract. The causes of the extreme and persistent warming in the Northeast Pacific from the winter of 2013/14 to that of 2014/15 are still not fully understood. While global warming may have contributed, natural influences may also have played a role. El Nino events are often implicated in anomalously warm conditions along the US West Coast (USWC). However, the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were generally weak during 2014, calling into question their role in the USWC warming. In this study, we identify tropical Pacific “sensitivity patterns” that optimally force USWC warming at a later time. We find that such sensitivity patterns do not coincide with the mature SST anomaly patterns usually associated with ENSO, but also include elements associated with ENSO SST precursors and SST anomalies in the central/western equatorial Pacific. El Nino events that produce large USWC warming, irrespective of their magnitude, do project on the sensitivity pattern and are characterized by a distinct evolution of the North Pacific atmospheric and oceanic fields. However, even weak tropical SST anomalies in the right location, and not necessarily associated with ENSO, can significantly influence USWC conditions and enhance their predictability.

Reprint (pdf)