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A New Perspective of the 2014/15 Failed El Niño as Seen from Ocean Salinity
[18-Feb-2020] Chi, J., DU, Y., Zhang, Y., Nie, X., Shi, P., and Qu, T.
Presented at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting
This study investigates the 2014/15 failed El Niño using salinity from an ocean general circulation model. The results indicate that subsurface processes were especially strong in the summer of 2014 and they led to positive sea surface salinity anomalies in the central equatorial Pacific. The positive sea surface salinity anomalies induced a westward displacement of the sea surface salinity front that represents the eastern boundary of the western Pacific warm pool, preventing the warm surface water from shifting eastward as seen in a typical El Niño event. In the meantime, more salty water was transported equatorward by a strengthening subtropical cell in the South Pacific. The enhanced subsurface processes in the central equatorial Pacific conveyed the salinity anomalies of subtropical origin to the sea surface and were largely responsible for the sea surface salinity variability but had less impacts on sea surface temperature during the 2014/15 failed El Niño, suggesting some potential advantage of ocean salinity in the el Niño-southern oscillation prediction.

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