The tropical Pacific cooling from the early 1990s to 2013 has contributed to the slowdown of globally averaged sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The origin of this regional cooling trend still remains elusive. Here we demonstrate that the remote impact of Atlantic SST anomalies, as well as local atmosphere-ocean interactions, contributed to the eastern Pacific cooling during this period. By assimilating observed three-dimensional Atlantic temperature and salinity anomalies into a coupled general circulation model, we are able to qualitatively reproduce the observed Pacific decadal trends of SST and sea level pressure (SLP), albeit with reduced amplitude. Although a major part of the Pacific SLP trend can be explained by equatorial Pacific SST forcing only, the origin of this low-frequency variability can be traced back further to the remote impacts of equatorial Atlantic and South Atlantic SST trends. Atlantic SST impacts on the atmospheric circulation can also be detected for the Northeastern Pacific, thus providing a linkage between Atlantic climate and Western North American drought conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)