Diagram and chart showing characteristics of the North Equatorial Current Bifurcation
Left panel: Schematic diagram illustrating latitudinal locations of the North Equatorial Current Bifurcation (NECB) in autumn climatology (green circle) and developing autumn of CP-I El Niño (blue triangle), CP-II El Niño (red quadrangle) and canonical El Niño (gray pentagon). Arrows indicate the North Equatorial Current (NEC), Kuroshio Current, and Mindanao Current. The shadings are annual mean sea surface height (SSH). Right panel: Evolution of the composite NECB latitude anomalies from SODA during canonical El Niños (red), CP-I El Niños (gray) and CP-II El Niños (blue). (0) and (1) represent the developing and decaying year of El Niño, respectively. The black dots indicate the NECB latitude anomalies that exceeds the 95 percent confidence level based on the Student’s t test. Credit: Xin Wang
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

The latitude of the North Equatorial Current Bifurcation (NECB) impacts a wide range of large-scale ocean behaviors, such as the Kuroshio, Mindanao Current, and the Indonesian throughflow, with far ranging impacts on the ocean and climate system. It’s been known that the NECB latitude responds to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), but the relationship is not rigorous.

Wang et al. [2020] make a meaningful start in detailing the impact of the varied ‘flavors’ of El Niño. Hopefully, it will be helpful to improve the simulation and prediction of the local and global climate, and it will also encourage people to develop a more quantitative study of the coupling of the NECB to larger scale forcing.

Citation: Wang, X., Tong, B., Wang, D., & Yang, L. [2020]. Variations of the North Equatorial Current Bifurcation and the SSH in the western Pacific associated with El Niño flavors. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125, e2019JC015733. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JC015733

—Lei Zhou, Editor, JGR: Oceans

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