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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 04 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Comparison of past and future simulations of ENSO in CMIP5/PMIP3 and CMIP6/PMIP4 models

Josephine R. Brown1, Chris M. Brierley2, Soon-Il An3, Maria-Vittoria Guarino4, Samantha Stevenson5, Charles J. R. Williams6,7, Qiong Zhang8, Anni Zhao2, Pascale Braconnot9, Esther C. Brady10, Deepak Chandan11, Roberta D'Agostino12, Chuncheng Guo13, Allegra N. LeGrande14, Gerrit Lohmann15, Polina A. Morozova16, Rumi Ohgaito17, Ryouta O'ishi18, Bette Otto-Bliesner10, W. Richard Peltier11, Xiaoxu Shi15, Louise Sime4, Evgeny M. Volodin19, Zhongshi Zhang13, and Weipeng Zheng20 Josephine R. Brown et al.
  • 1School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia
  • 2Department of Geography, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK
  • 3Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, CB3 0ET, Cambridge, UK
  • 5Bren School of Environmental Sciences and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
  • 6School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK
  • 7Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, P.O. Box 243, Reading RG6 6BB, UK
  • 8Department of Physical Geography and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 9Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement–IPSL, unite mixte CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 10National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
  • 11Department of Physics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S1A7, Canada
  • 12Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146, Hamburg, Germany
  • 13NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 14NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, USA
  • 15Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research Bussestr. 24, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 16Institute of Geography Russian Academy of Sciences, Staromonetny L. 29, Moscow 119017, Russia
  • 17Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 3173-25 Showamachi, Kanazawa-ward, Yokohama, 236-0001, Japan
  • 18Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan
  • 19Marchuk Institute of Numerical Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  • 20State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China

Abstract. El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the strongest mode of interannual climate variability in the current climate, influencing ecosystems, agriculture and weather systems across the globe, but future projections of ENSO frequency and amplitude remain highly uncertain. A comparison of changes in ENSO in a range of past and future climate simulations can provide insights into the sensitivity of ENSO to changes in the mean state, including changes in the seasonality of incoming solar radiation, global average temperatures and spatial patterns of sea surface temperatures. As a comprehensive set of coupled model simulations are now available for both palaeoclimate time-slices (the Last Glacial Maximum, mid-Holocene and Last Interglacial) and idealised future warming scenarios (one percent per year CO2 increase, abrupt four times CO2 increase), this allows a detailed evaluation of ENSO changes in this wide range of climates. Such a comparison can assist in constraining uncertainty in future projections, providing insights into model agreement and the sensitivity of ENSO to a range of factors. The majority of models simulate a consistent weakening of ENSO activity in the Last Interglacial and mid-Holocene experiments, and there is an ensemble mean reduction of variability in the western equatorial Pacific in the Last Glacial Maximum experiments. Changes in global temperature produce a weaker precipitation response to ENSO in the cold Last Glacial Maximum experiments, and an enhanced precipitation response to ENSO in the warm increased CO2 experiments. No consistent relationship between changes in ENSO amplitude and annual cycle was identified across experiments.

Josephine R. Brown et al.

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Josephine R. Brown et al.

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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the largest source of year to year variability in the current climate, but the response of ENSO to past or future changes in climate is uncertain. This study compares the strength and spatial pattern of ENSO in a set of climate model simulations in order to explore how ENSO changes in different climates, including past cold glacial climates and past climates with different seasonal cycles as well as gradual and abrupt future warming cases.
El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the largest source of year to year variability in the...