Advanced Search



ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Li, Y., Chen, Q. L., Li, J. P., Zhang, W. J., Song, M. H., Hua, W., Cai, H. K., and Wu, X. F. (2019). The tropical Pacific cold tongue mode and its associated main ocean dynamical process in CMIP5 models. Earth Planet. Phys., 3(5), 400–413.doi: 10.26464/epp2019041

2019, 3(5): 400-413. doi: 10.26464/epp2019041


The tropical Pacific cold tongue mode and its associated main ocean dynamical process in CMIP5 models


College of Atmospheric Science, Plateau Atmosphere and Environment Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu University of Information Technology, Chengdu 610225, China


Key Laboratory of Physical Oceanography–Institute for Advanced Ocean Studies, Ocean University of China and Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266100, China


Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster of Ministry of Education, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

Corresponding author: QuanLiang Chen,

Received Date: 2019-05-03
Web Publishing Date: 2019-09-01

The cold tongue mode (CTM), which represents the out-of-phase relationship in sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) variability between the Pacific cold tongue region and elsewhere in the tropical Pacific, shows a long-term cooling trend in the eastern equatorial Pacific. In this study, we investigate how well the CTM is reproduced in historical simulations generated by the 20 models considered in Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Qualitatively, all 20 models roughly capture the cooling SSTA associated with the CTM. However, a quantitative assessment (i.e., Taylor diagrams and the ratio of the trend between the simulations and observations) shows that only five of these 20 models (i.e., CESM1-CAM5, CMCC-CM, FGOALS-g2, IPSL-CM5B-LR, and NorESM1-M) can reproduce with useful accuracy the spatial pattern and long-term trend of the CTM. We find that these five models generally simulate the main ocean dynamical process associated with the CTM. That is, these models adequately capture the long-term cooling trend in the vertical advection of the anomalous temperature by the mean upwelling. We conclude that the performance of these CMIP5 models, with respect to simulations of the long-term cooling trend associated with the vertical advection, and the related long-term decreasing trend of the vertical gradient of the oceanic temperature anomaly, can play an important role in successful reproduction of the CTM.

Key words: tropical Pacific, La Niña-like, cold tongue mode, ocean dynamical process, CMIP5

Ashok, K., Behera, S. K., Rao, S. A., Weng, H. Y., and Yamagata, T. (2007). El Niño Modoki and its possible teleconnection. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 112(C11), C11007.

Bellenger, H., Guilyardi, E., Leloup, J., Lengaigne, M., and Vialard, J. (2014). ENSO representation in climate models: from CMIP3 to CMIP5. Climate Dyn., 42(7-8), 1999–2018.

Cane, M. A., Clement, A. C., Kaplan, A., Kushnir, Y., Pozdnyakov, D., Seager, R., Zebiak, S. E., and Murtugudde, R. (1997). Twentieth-century sea surface temperature trends. Science, 275(5302), 957–960.

Capotondi, A., Wittenberg, A. T., Newman, M., Di Lorenzo, E., Yu, J. Y., Braconnot, P., Cole, J., Dewitte, B., Giese, B., … Yeh, S. W. (2015). Understanding ENSO diversity. Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc., 96(6), 921–938.

Coats, S., and Karnauskas, K. B. (2017). Are simulated and observed twentieth century tropical Pacific sea surface temperature trends significant relative to internal variability?. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44(19), 9928–9937.

Coats, S., and Karnauskas, K. B. (2018). A role for the Equatorial Undercurrent in the ocean dynamical thermostat. J. Climate, 31(16), 6245–6261.

Collins, M., An, S. I., Cai, W. J., Ganachaud, A., Guilyardi, E., Jin, F. F., Jochum, M., Lengaigne, M., Power, S., … Wittenberg, A. (2010). The impact of global warming on the tropical Pacific ocean and El Niño. Nat. Geosci., 3(6), 391–397.

Compo, G. P., and Sardeshmukh, P. D. (2010). Removing ENSO-Related Variations from the Climate Record. J. Climate, 23(8), 1957–1978.

Deser, C., Alexander, M. A., Xie, S. P., and Phillips, A. S. (2009). Sea surface temperature variability: Patterns and mechanisms. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci., 2, 115–143.

DiNezio, P. N., Clement, A. C., Vecchi, G. A., Soden, B. J., Kirtman, B. P., and Lee, S. K. (2009). Climate response of the equatorial Pacific to global warming. J. Climate, 22(18), 4873–4892.

Drenkard, E. J., and Karnauskas, K. B. (2014). Strengthening of the Pacific equatorial undercurrent in the SODA reanalysis: mechanisms, ocean dynamics, and implications. J. Climate, 27(6), 2405–2416.

Duan, W. S., Tian, B., and Xu, H. (2014). Simulations of two types of El Niño events by an optimal forcing vector approach. Climate Dyn., 43(5-6), 1677–1692.

Funk, C. C., and Hoell, A. (2015). The leading mode of observed and CMIP5 ENSO-residual sea surface temperatures and associated changes in Indo-Pacific climate. J. Climate, 28(11), 4309–4329.

Jiang, N., and Zhu, C. W. (2018). Asymmetric changes of ENSO diversity modulated by the cold tongue mode under recent global warming. Geophys. Res. Lett., 45(22), 12506–512513.

Karnauskas, K. B., Seager R., Kaplan A., Kushnir Y., and Cane M. A. (2009). Observed strengthening of the zonal sea surface temperature gradient across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. J. Climate, 22(16), 4316–4321.

Karnauskas, K. B. (2013). Can we distinguish canonical El Niño from Modoki?. Geophys. Res. Lett., 40(19), 5246–5251.

Kim, S. T., and Yu, J. Y. (2012). The two types of ENSO in CMIP5 models. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39(11), L11704.

Kug, J. S., Ham, Y. G., Lee, J. Y., and Jin, F. F. (2012). Improved simulation of two types of El Niño in CMIP5 models. Environ. Res. Lett., 7(3), 034002.

Lemmon, D. E., and Karnauskas, K. B. (2019). A metric for quantifying El Niño pattern diversity with implications for ENSO-mean state interaction. Climate Dyn., 52(12), 7511–7523.

L'Heureux, M. L., Lee, S., and Lyon, B. (2013). Recent multidecadal strengthening of the Walker circulation across the tropical Pacific. Nat. Climate Change, 3(6), 571–576.

Li, G., and Xie, S. P. (2012). Origins of tropical-wide SST biases in CMIP multi-model ensembles. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39(22), L22703.

Li, J. P., Ren, R. C., Qi, Y. Q., Wang, F. M., Lu, R. Y., Zhang, P. Q., Jiang, Z. H., Duan, W. S., Yu, F., and Yang, Y. Z. (2013). Progress in air-land-sea interactions in Asia and their role in global and Asian climate change. Chin. J. Atmos. Sci. (in Chinese) , 37(2), 518–538.

Li, Y., Li, J. P., Zhang, W. J., Zhao, X., Xie, F., and Zheng, F. (2015). Ocean dynamical processes associated with the tropical Pacific cold tongue mode. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 120(9), 6419–6435.

Li, Y., Li, J. P., Zhang, W. J., Chen, Q. L., Feng, J., Zheng, F., Wang, W., and Zhou, X. (2017). Impacts of the tropical Pacific cold tongue mode on ENSO diversity under global warming. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 122(11), 8524–8542.

Li, Y., Chen, Q. L., Liu, X. R., Li, J. P., Xing, N., Xie, F., Feng, J., Zhou, X., Cai, H. K., and Wang, Z. L. (2019). Long-term trend of the tropical Pacific trade winds under global warming and its causes. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 124(4), 2626–2640.

Lin, R. P., Zheng, F., and Dong, X. (2018). ENSO frequency asymmetry and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in observations and 19 CMIP5 models. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 35(5), 495–506.

Newman, M., Alexander, M. A., Ault, T. R., Cobb, K. M., Deser, C., Di Lorenzo, E., Mantua, N. J., Miller, A. J., Minobe, S., … Smith, C. A. (2016). The Pacific decadal oscillation, revisited. J. Climate, 29(12), 4399–4427.

Rayner, N. A., Parker, D. E., Horton, E. B., Folland, C. K., Alexander, L. V., Rowell, D. P., Kent, E. C., and Kaplan, A. (2003). Global analyses of sea surface temperature, sea ice, and night marine air temperature since the late nineteenth century. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 108(D14), 4407.

Ren, H. L., and Jin, F. F. (2013). Recharge oscillator mechanisms in two types of ENSO. J. Climate, 26(17), 6506–6523.

Ren, H. L., Jin, F. F., Stuecker, M. F., and Xie, R. H. (2013). ENSO regime change since the late 1970s as manifested by two types of ENSO. J. Meteor. Soc. Japan. Ser. II, 91(6), 835–842.

Ren, H. L., Jin, F. F., Tian, B., and Scaife, A. A. (2016a). Distinct persistence barriers in two types of ENSO. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43(20), 10973–10979.

Ren, H. L., Zuo, J. Q., Jin, F.-F., and Stuecker, M. F. (2016b). ENSO and annual cycle interaction: the combination mode representation in CMIP5 models. Climate Dyn., 46(11-12), 3753–3765.

Sen, P. K. (1968). Estimates of the regression coefficient based on Kendall's tau. J. Am. Stat. Assoc., 63(324), 1379–1389.

Solomon, A., and Newman, M. (2012). Reconciling disparate twentieth-century Indo-Pacific ocean temperature trends in the instrumental record. Nat. Climate Change, 2(9), 691–699.

Taylor, K. E. (2001). Summarizing multiple aspects of model performance in a single diagram. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 106(D7), 7183–7192.

Taylor, K. E., Stouffer, R. J., and Meehl, G. A. (2012). An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc., 93(4), 485–498.

Theil, H. (1992). A rank-invariant method of linear and polynomial regression analysis. In B. Raj, et al. (Eds.), Henri Theil’s Contributions to Economics and Econometrics: Econometric Theory and Methodology (pp. 345-381). Dordrecht: Springer.

Yang, C. X., Giese, B. S., and Wu, L. X. (2014). Ocean dynamics and tropical Pacific climate change in ocean reanalyses and coupled climate models. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 119(10), 7066–7077.

Yeh, S. W., Kug, J. S., Dewitte, B., Kwon, M. H., Kirtman, B. P., and Jin, F. F. (2009). El Niño in a changing climate. Nature, 461(7263), 511–514.

Zhang, W. J., Li, J. P., and Zhao, X. (2010). Sea surface temperature cooling mode in the Pacific cold tongue. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 115(C12), C12042.

Zhang, W. J., and Jin, F. F. (2012). Improvements in the CMIP5 simulations of ENSO-SSTA meridional width. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39(23), L23704.

Zhang, W. J., Jin, F. F., Zhao, J. X., Qi, L., and Ren, H. L. (2013). The possible influence of a nonconventional El Niño on the severe autumn drought of 2009 in southwest China. J. Climate, 26(21), 8392–8405.

Zhang, W. J., Jin, F. F., and Turner, A. (2014). Increasing autumn drought over southern China associated with ENSO regime shift. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41(11), 4020–4026.

Zheng, F., Fang, X. H., Yu, J. Y., and Zhu, J. (2014). Asymmetry of the Bjerknes positive feedback between the two types of El Niño. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41(21), 7651–7657.

Zheng, F., Li, J. P., Feng, J., Li, Y. J., and Li, Y. (2015). Relative importance of the austral summer and autumn SAM in modulating Southern Hemisphere extratropical autumn SST. J. Climate, 28(20), 8003–8020.

Zheng, F., Fang, X. H., Zhu, J., Yu, J. Y., and Li, X. C. (2016). Modulation of Bjerknes feedback on the decadal variations in ENSO predictability. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43(24), 12560–12568.

Zheng, F., and Yu, J. Y. (2017). Contrasting the skills and biases of deterministic predictions for the two types of El Niño. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 34(12), 1395–1403.


Yang Li, QuanLiang Chen, XiaoRan Liu, Nan Xing, ZhiGang Cheng, HongKe Cai, Xin Zhou, Dong Chen, XiaoFei Wu, MingGang Li, 2019: The first two leading modes of the tropical Pacific and their linkage without global warming, Earth and Planetary Physics, 3, 157-165. doi: 10.26464/epp2019019


Xian Chen, Zhong Zhong, YiJia Hu, Shi Zhong, Wei Lu, Jing Jiang, 2019: Role of tropical cyclones over the western North Pacific in the East Asian summer monsoon system, Earth and Planetary Physics, 3, 147-156. doi: 10.26464/epp2019018


Qiang Zhang, QingSong Liu, 2018: Changes in diffuse reflectance spectroscopy properties of hematite in sediments from the North Pacific Ocean and implications for eolian dust evolution history, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 342-350. doi: 10.26464/epp2018031


Chun-Feng Li, Jian Wang, 2018: Thermal structures of the Pacific lithosphere from magnetic anomaly inversion, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 52-66. doi: 10.26464/epp2018005


Quan-Zhi Ye, 2018: A preliminary analysis of the Shangri-La Bolide on 2017 Oct 4, Earth and Planetary Physics, , 170-172. doi: 10.26464/epp2018017


ShiBang Li, HaoYu Lu, Jun Cui, YiQun Yu, Christian Mazelle, Yun Li, JinBin Cao, 2020: Effects of a dipole-like crustal field on solar wind interaction with Mars, Earth and Planetary Physics, 4, 23-31. doi: 10.26464/epp2020005


BinBin Ni, Jing Huang, YaSong Ge, Jun Cui, Yong Wei, XuDong Gu, Song Fu, Zheng Xiang, ZhengYu Zhao, 2018: Radiation belt electron scattering by whistler-mode chorus in the Jovian magnetosphere: Importance of ambient and wave parameters, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 1-14. doi: 10.26464/epp2018001


Xiang Wang, Chen Zhou, Tong Xu, Farideh Honary, Michael Rietveld, Vladimir Frolov, 2019: Stimulated electromagnetic emissions spectrum observed during an X-mode heating experiment at the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association, Earth and Planetary Physics, 3, 391-399. doi: 10.26464/epp2019042


ZhongHua Yao, 2017: Observations of loading-unloading process at Saturn’s distant magnetotail, Earth and Planetary Physics, 1, 53-57. doi: 10.26464/epp2017007


YuJing Liao, QuanLiang Chen, Xin Zhou, 2019: Seasonal evolution of the effects of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation on lower stratospheric water vapor: Delayed effects in late winter and early spring, Earth and Planetary Physics, 3, 489-500. doi: 10.26464/epp2019050


Yi-Ching Lo, Li Zhao, XiWei Xu, Ji Chen, Shu-Huei Hung, 2018: The 13 November 2016 Kaikoura, New Zealand earthquake: rupture process and seismotectonic implications, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 139-149. doi: 10.26464/epp2018014


WeiMin Wang, JianKun He, JinLai Hao, ZhenXing Yao, 2018: Preliminary result for the rupture process of Nov.13, 2017, Mw7.3 earthquake at Iran-Iraq border, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 82-83. doi: 10.26464/epp2018008


JingXing Fang, Feng Qian, HaiMing Zhang, 2020: Analysis of the role of branching angle in the dynamic rupture process on a 3-D branching fault system, Earth and Planetary Physics. doi: 10.26464/epp2020043


WeiMin Wang, JinLai Hao, ZhenXing Yao, 2018: Preliminary results for the rupture process of Jan. 10, 2018, Mw7.6 earthquake at east of Great Swan Island, Honduras, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 86-87. doi: 10.26464/epp2018010

Article Metrics
  • PDF Downloads()
  • Abstract views()
  • HTML views()
  • Cited by(0)

Figures And Tables

The tropical Pacific cold tongue mode and its associated main ocean dynamical process in CMIP5 models

Yang Li, QuanLiang Chen, JianPing Li, WenJun Zhang, MinHong Song, Wei Hua, HongKe Cai, XiaoFei Wu