Influence of internal climate variability on Indian Ocean Dipole properties

Abstract

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is the dominant mode of interannual variability over the tropical Indian Ocean (IO) and its future changes are projected to impact the climate and weather of Australia, East Africa, and Indonesia. Understanding the response of the IOD to a warmer climate has been largely limited to studies of individual coupled general circulation models or multi-model ensembles. This has provided valuable insight into the IOD’s projected response to increasing greenhouse gases but has limitations in accounting for the role of internal climate variability. Using the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM-LE), the IOD is examined in thirty-five present-day and future simulations to determine how internal variability influences properties of the IOD and their response to a warmer climate. Despite small perturbations in the initial conditions as the only difference between ensemble members, significant relationships between the mean state of the IO and the IOD arise, leading to a spread in the projected IOD responses to increasing greenhouse gases. This is driven by the positive Bjerknes feedback, where small differences in mean thermocline depth, which are caused by internal climate variability, generate significant variations in IOD amplitude, skewness, and the climatological zonal sea surface temperature gradient

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