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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 3 | Copyright
Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 1063-1083, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Aug 2018

Research article | 27 Aug 2018

Causal dependences between the coupled ocean–atmosphere dynamics over the tropical Pacific, the North Pacific and the North Atlantic

Stéphane Vannitsem1 and Pierre Ekelmans2 Stéphane Vannitsem and Pierre Ekelmans
  • 1Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Avenue Circulaire, 3, 1180 Brussels, Belgium
  • 2Theory of Neural Dynamics Group, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Max-von-Laue-Strasse 4, 60438 Frankfurt, Germany

Abstract. The causal dependences (in a dynamical sense) between the dynamics of three different coupled ocean–atmosphere basins, the North Atlantic, the North Pacific and the tropical Pacific region (Nino3.4), have been explored using data from three reanalysis datasets, namely ORA-20C, ORAS4 and ERA-20C. The approach is based on convergent cross mapping (CCM) developed by Sugihara et al. (2012) that allows for evaluating the dependences between variables beyond the classical teleconnection patterns based on correlations.

The use of CCM on these data mostly reveals that (i) the tropical Pacific (Nino3.4 region) only influences the dynamics of the North Atlantic region through its annual climatological cycle; (ii) the atmosphere over the North Pacific is dynamically forcing the North Atlantic on a monthly basis; (iii) on longer timescales (interannual), the dynamics of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic are influencing each other through the ocean dynamics, suggesting a connection through the thermohaline circulation.

These findings shed a new light on the coupling between these three different regions of the globe. In particular, they call for a deep reassessment of the way teleconnections are interpreted and for a more rigorous way to evaluate dynamical dependences between the different components of the climate system.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon is a slow dynamics present in the coupled ocean–atmosphere tropical Pacific system which has important teleconnections with the northern extratropics. These teleconnections are usually believed to be the source of an enhanced predictability in the northern extratropics at seasonal to decadal timescales. This question is challenged by investigating the causality between these regions using an advanced technique known as convergent cross mapping.
The El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon is a slow dynamics present in the coupled...