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Hu, X., Cai, M., Yang, S., & Wu, Z. (2018). Delineation of thermodynamic and dynamic responses to sea surface temperature forcing associated with El Niño. Clim Dyn, 51(11-12), 4329–4344.
Abstract: A new framework is proposed to gain a better understanding of the response of the atmosphere over the tropical Pacific to the radiative heating anomaly associated with the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly in canonical El Niño winters. The new framework is based on the equilibrium balance between thermal radiative cooling anomalies associated with air temperature response to SST anomalies and other thermodynamic and dynamic processes. The air temperature anomalies in the lower troposphere are mainly in response to radiative heating anomalies associated with SST, atmospheric water vapor, and cloud anomalies that all exhibit similar spatial patterns. As a result, air temperature induced thermal radiative cooling anomalies would balance out most of the radiative heating anomalies in the lower troposphere. The remaining part of the radiative heating anomalies is then taken away by an enhancement (a reduction) of upward energy transport in the central-eastern (western) Pacific basin, a secondary contribution to the air temperature anomalies in the lower troposphere. Above the middle troposphere, radiative effect due to water vapor feedback is weak. Thermal radiative cooling anomalies are mainly in balance with the sum of latent heating anomalies, vertical and horizontal energy transport anomalies associated with atmospheric dynamic response and the radiative heating anomalies due to changes in cloud. The pattern of Gill-type response is attributed mainly to the non-radiative heating anomalies associated with convective and large-scale energy transport. The radiative heating anomalies associated with the anomalies of high clouds also contribute positively to the Gill-type response. This sheds some light on why the Gill-type atmospheric response can be easily identifiable in the upper atmosphere.