Miller, A. J., and N. Schneider, 2000:

Interdecadal climate regime dynamics in the North Pacific Ocean:
Theories, observations and ecosystem impacts

Progress in Oceanography, 47, 355-379.

Abstract. Basin-scale variations in oceanic physical variables are thought to organize patterns of biological response across the Pacific Ocean over decadal time scales. Different physical mechanisms can be responsible for the diverse basin-scale patterns of sea-surface temperature (SST), mixed-layer depth, thermocline depth, and horizontal currents, although they are linked in various ways. In light of various theories and observations, we interpret observed basinwide patterns of decadal-scale variations in upper-ocean temperatures. Evidence so far indicates that large-scale perturbations of the Aleutian Low generate temperature anomalies in the central and eastern North Pacific due to the combined action of net surface heat flux, turbulent mixing and Ekman advection. The surface-forced temperature anomalies in the central North Pacific subduct and propagate southwestwards in the ocean thermocline to the subtropics but apparently do not reach the equator. The large-scale Ekman pumping due to changes of the Aleutian Low forces western-intensified thermocline depth anomalies that are approximately consistent with Sverdrup theory. These thermocline changes are associated with SST anomalies in the Kuroshio/Oyashio Extension that are of the same sign as those in the central North Pacific, but lagged by several years. The physics of the possible feedback from the SST anomalies to the Aleutian Low, which might close a coupled ocean-atmosphere mode of decadal variability, is poorly understood and is an area of active research. The possible responses of North Pacific Ocean ecosystems to these complicated physical patterns is summarized.

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