Systematic Comparison of ENSO Teleconnection Patterns between Models and Observations

This paper applies a new field significance test to establish the existence and consistency of ENSO teleconnection patterns across models and observations. An ENSO teleconnection pattern is defined as a field of regression coefficients between an index of the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature and a field of variables such as surface air temperature or precipitation. The test is applied to boreal winter and summer in six continents using observations and hindcasts from the Development of a European Multimodel Ensemble System for Seasonal-to-Interannual Prediction (DEMETER) and the ENSEMBLE-based predictions of climate changes and their impacts (ENSEMBLES) projects. This comparison represents one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date assessments of the extent to which ENSO teleconnection patterns exist and can be reproduced by coupled models. Statistically significant ENSO teleconnection patterns are detected in both observations and models and in all continents and in both winter and summer seasons, except in two cases: 1) Europe (both seasons and variables), and 2) North America (both variables in boreal summer). Despite many ENSO teleconnection patterns being significant, however, the patterns do not necessarily agree between observations and models. The degree of agreement between models and observations is characterized as \textquotedblleftrobust,\textquotedblright \textquotedblleftmoderate,\textquotedblright or \textquotedblleftlow.\textquotedblright Only Australia and South America are found to have robust agreement between ENSO teleconnection patterns, and then only for limited seasons and variables. Although many of our conclusions regarding teleconnection patterns conform to previous studies, there are exceptions, including the fact that the teleconnection for boreal winter precipitation is generally accepted to exist in Africa but in fact has only low agreement with model simulations, while that in Asia is not widely recognized to exist but is found to be significant and in moderate agreement with model teleconnections.
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Journal of Climate
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