The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) exerts a strong influence on tropical Atlantic variability, but it is also affected by Atlantic forcing. Previous research has proposed three Atlantic precursors for ENSO: the North tropical Atlantic, the equatorial Atlantic, and the entire tropical Atlantic. However, the relative importance of these Atlantic precursors for ENSO remains unclear. Here, we present evidence from a set of multimodel partial ocean assimilation experiments that equatorial Atlantic cooling is the main contributor for weakening equatorial zonal winds in the Indo-Pacific sector and subsequent ocean warming in the tropical Pacific. Opposite tendencies occur for a warmer equatorial Atlantic. The equatorial Atlantic affects the interbasin climate seesaw between the Atlantic and Pacific through an atmospheric zonal Wavenumber 1 pattern. However, model mean state biases and systematic errors prevent a precise assessment of the response times for the equatorial Pacific trade winds to Atlantic forcing.
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