Main content area

Modulation of tropical cyclones in the southeastern part of western North Pacific by tropical Pacific decadal variability

Liu, Chao, Zhang, Wenjun, Geng, Xin, Stuecker, Malte F., Jin, Fei-Fei
Climate dynamics 2019 v.53 no.7-8 pp. 4475-4488
El Nino, La Nina, climate, cold, hurricanes, models, prediction, wind
The tropical cyclone (TC) genesis number in the western North Pacific (WNP) exhibits a pronounced decadal decrease around the mid-1990s, with prominent seasonal and spatial inhomogeneity. This decadal shift of TC activity is mostly confined to the southeastern part of the WNP and occurs mainly during the second half of the calendar year. Accordingly, westward and northeastward TC recurving movements strongly decreased in recent decades after 1995 compared with TC tracks in the earlier period (1979–1994). We find that this TC activity decadal change is associated with tropical Pacific decadal variability, which is measured here by a low-pass filtered Niño3.4 index. In contrast to the earlier period, the anomalous cold mean state in the tropical Pacific during recent decades favored the enhancement of zonal vertical wind shear (UVWS) and suppressed TC activity. This tropical Pacific mean state change is possibly related to decadal changes of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) properties (i.e., more La Niña events occurred during recent decades). This relationship between tropical Pacific mean state change and the UVWS in the southeastern WNP on decadal timescales is further validated based on longer observations (1951–2017) and control simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). The statistical relationships between TC activity and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) or Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) are weaker and insignificant, both for the observations and for simulations. Our results imply that decadal variations of the tropical Pacific mean state should be taken into account when predicting WNP TC activities on decadal timescales.