Modulation of North Pacific tropical cyclone activity by three phases of ENSO

Hye Mi Kim, Peter J. Webster, Judith A. Curry

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217 Scopus citations


Tropical Pacific Ocean warming has been separated into two modes based on the spatial distribution of the maximum sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly: an east Pacific warming (EPW) and a central Pacific warming (CPW). When combined with east Pacific cooling (EPC), these three regimes are shown to have different impacts on tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the North Pacific by differential modulation of both local thermodynamic factors and large-scale circulation patterns. In EPW years, the genesis and the track density of TCs tend to be enhanced over the southeastern part and suppressed in the northwestern part of the western Pacific by strong westerly wind shear. The extension of the monsoon trough and the weak wind shear over the central Pacific increases the likelihood of TC activity to the east of the climatological mean TC genesis location. InCPWyears, the TC activity is shifted to the west and is extended through the northwestern part of the western Pacific. The westward shifting of CPW-induced heating moves the anomalous westerly wind and monsoon trough through the northwestern part of the western Pacific and provides a more favorable condition for TC landfall. The CPW, on the other hand, produces a large suppression of TC activity in the eastern Pacific basin. In EPC years, all of the variables investigated show almost a mirror image of the EPW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1839-1849
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first two authors made equal contributions to this work. This study was partially supported by a grant from the Deutsche Fors-chungsgemeinschaft (Sche 341/10–1).


  • ENSO
  • North Pacific Ocean
  • Sea surface temperature
  • Tropical cyclones


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