Theories on Formation of an Anomalous Anticyclone in Western North Pacific during El Niño: A Review


  • The western North Pacific anomalous anticyclone (WNPAC) is an important atmospheric circulation system that conveys El Niño impact on East Asian climate. In this review paper, various theories on the formation and maintenance of the WNPAC, including warm pool atmosphere–ocean interaction, Indian Ocean capacitor, a combination mode that emphasizes nonlinear interaction between ENSO and annual cycle, moist enthalpy advection/Rossby wave modulation, and central Pacific SST forcing, are discussed. It is concluded that local atmosphere–ocean interaction and moist enthalpy advection/Rossby wave modulation mechanisms are essential for the initial development and maintenance of the WNPAC during El Niño mature winter and subsequent spring. The Indian Ocean capacitor mechanism does not contribute to the earlier development but helps maintain the WNPAC in El Niño decaying summer. The cold SST anomaly in the western North Pacific, although damped in the summer, also plays a role. An inter-basin atmosphere–ocean interaction across the Indo-Pacific warm pool emerges as a new mechanism in summer. In addition, the central Pacific cold SST anomaly may induce the WNPAC during rapid El Niño decaying/La Niña developing or La Niña persisting summer. The near-annual periods predicted by the combination mode theory are hardly detected from observations and thus do not contribute to the formation of the WNPAC. The tropical Atlantic may have a capacitor effect similar to the tropical Indian Ocean.
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