Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Special Seminar: The Role of the Ocean in Tropical Pacific Climate Variability and Change

Special Seminar: The Role of the Ocean in Tropical Pacific Climate Variability and Change

dinezio180.jpgI started my research career in 2005 as a sea-­going technician and programmer at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological (AOML) laboratory, where I worked collecting ocean observations and developing estimates of upper ocean heat content from in-­situ and satellite measurements. In 2007, I started graduate school at the Rosenstiel School where I studied the dynamics of tropical climate change under the supervision of Amy Clement. I obtained an M.Sc. In 2009 and a Ph.D. in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography in 2011, and soon after I received the Young Investigator research fellowship from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) of the University of Hawaii. At SOEST, I have continued to study the dynamics of tropical climate change, in particular the role of the tropics on glacial cycles. I am currently on a seven month long visit at NCAR's Climate and Global Dynamics division, where I am working on two new research projects using the Community Earth System Model (CESM). One aims to determine whether the duration of La Nina events is predictable, along with their effect on North American drought (in collaboration with Clara Deser). The other project has the objective of improving the simulation of tropical rainfall in simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum (in collaboration with Better Otto-­‐Bliesner and Brian Mapes).

Abstract: Climate changes in the tropical Pacific exhibiting a weaker east-west gradient in sea-surface temperature are often characterized as El Niño-like; and conversely stronger gradients as La Niña-like. However, below the ocean's surface these changes may not necessarily follow the dynamics of El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In my talk I will explore the role of the ocean in the following climate phenomena that have mischaracterized as ENSO analogues: 1) the response of the equatorial Pacific Ocean to global warming, 2) the climate of the Indo-Pacific warm pool during ice ages, 3) Pacific decadal variability, and 4) the multi-year persistence of modern-day La Niña. The ocean plays a key role in all these climate variations, but the dynamics are strikingly different from the conventional thinking based on ENSO dynamics. To conclude, I will discuss how these mechanisms can be constrained using historical and paleo observations, their implications for predicting climate impacts, as well as strategies for model improvement.


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