A New Equatorial Oscillation Index for Better Describing ENSO and Westerly Wind Bursts


  • An Equatorial Oscillation Index (EOI) is defined, based on the zonal gradient of sea surface pressure between the western Pacific and eastern Pacific along the equator, to describe the distribution of wind and pressure within the equatorial Pacific. The EOI has a stronger correlation with the Niño3.4 sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA), as well as with westerly/easterly wind bursts (WWBs/EWBs), showing a superiority over the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). In general, the EOI is consistent with the SOI, both of which reflect large-scale sea level pressure oscillations. However, when there are inconsistent SSTAs between the equator and subtropical regions, the SOI may contrast with the EOI due to the reverse changes in sea level pressure in the subtropical regions. As a result, the SOI fails to match the pattern of El Niño, while the EOI can still match it well. Hence, the EOI can better describe the variability of the Niño3.4 SSTA and WWBs/EWBs. The correlation between the SOI and Niño3.4 SSTA falls to its mini-mum in May, due to the large one-month changes of sea level pressure from April to May in the subtropical southern Pacific, which may be related to the spring predictability barrier (SPB). The newly defined EOI may be helpful for monitoring El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and predicting ENSO.
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