Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology’s (JAMSTEC) scientists, Dr. Chaoxia Yuan and Dr. Toshio Yamagata, have demonstrated the existence of intrinsic costal ocean-atmosphere coupled phenomenon in the costal ocean off Baja California and California for the first time.
It is named California Niño/Niña in its intrinsic sense.
The costal ocean off Baja California and California is located near the eastern edge of the subtropical high. The equatorward alongshore surface wind drives the surface water offshore under the influence of the earth’ rotation. To compensate this surface water, cold subsurface water upwells. Because of this, the sea surface temperature is kept low in this region.
In some years, however, the upwelling is reduced (enhanced) and thus the costal ocean becomes warmer (colder) than normal. Such interannual variability in sea surface temperatures along the coast has been considered to be related to El Niño/La Niña events in the tropical Pacific. However, the present study has demonstrated for the first time that an intrinsic coastal ocean-atmosphere coupled mode, which is independent of El Niño/Niña events, may contribute to the interannual variability in sea surface temperatures, particularly in summer.
The regional air-sea coupled phenomenon seems to be analogous to the well-known El Niño/La Niña in the equatorial Pacific Ocean but with much smaller time and space scales. Therefore it is named California Niño/Niña. This new phenomenon is considered to give significant impacts on marine ecosystems regional weather, and agriculture along the west coast of North America. It is, therefore, useful to develop a seasonal prediction system by use of a coupled ocean-atmosphere model which resolves the California Niño/Niña. The effort in this direction is under way.
Press Release, April 25, 2014; Image: