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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Impact of a permanent El Ni\~no (El Padre) and Indian Ocean Dipole in warm Pliocene climates


Sonali Shukla

Mark Chandler

Jeff Jonas

Linda Sohl

Ken Mankoff

Harry Dowsett

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:


Pliocene sea surface temperature data, as well as terrestrial precipitation and temperature proxies, indicate warmer than modern conditions in the eastern equatorial Pacific and imply permanent El Ni\~no–like conditions with impacts similar to those of the 1997/1998 El Ni\~no event. Here we use a general circulation model to examine the global-scale effects that result from imposing warm tropical sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in both modern and Pliocene simulations. Observed SSTs from the 1997/1998 El Ni\~no event were used for the anomalies and incorporate Pacific warming as well as a prominent Indian Ocean Dipole event. Both the permanent El Ni\~no (also called El Padre) and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions are necessary to reproduce temperature and precipitation patterns consistent with the global distribution of Pliocene proxy data. These patterns may result from the poleward propagation of planetary waves from the strong convection centers associated with the El Ni\~no and IOD.