Global warming may shift the properties and dynamics of El Niño. We study the shifts in ENSO couplings in IPCC-AR4 coupled general circulation climate models.First, we compare period, pattern, amplitude and mean state of the Pacific Ocean between the current climate and a high CO2 climate. Next, shifts in ENSO couplings between sea surface temperature (SST), thermocline depth and wind stress are discussed. Although the mean state shifts, the overall ENSO properties do not change much. Changes in the mean state affect the feedback loop. Higher mean SST provides higher damping through cloud feedback. The shallower thermocline and mixed layer depth increase SST sensitivity to thermocline variability and wind stress. Wind response to SST variability increases where the mean SST has increased the most. However, the higher damping and more stable atmosphere compensate the other changes and the residual change in ENSO properties is relatively small.
SY Philip, GJ van Oldenborgh. Shifts in ENSO coupling processes under global warming
published, Geophys. Res. Lett., 2006, 33