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Abstract

The modes of Pacific decadal-scale variability (PDV), traditionally defined as statistical patterns of variance, reflect to first order the ocean's integration (i.e., reddening) of atmospheric forcing that arises from both a shift and a change in strength of the climatological (time-mean) atmospheric circulation. While these patterns concisely describe PDV, they do not distinguish among the key dynamical processes driving the evolution of PDV anomalies, including atmospheric and ocean teleconnections and coupled feedbacks with similar spatial structures that operate on different timescales. In this review, we synthesize past analysis using an empirical dynamical model constructed from monthly ocean surface anomalies drawn from several reanalysis products, showing that the PDV modes of variance result from two fundamental low-frequency dynamical eigenmodes: the North Pacific–central Pacific (NP-CP) and Kuroshio–Oyashio Extension (KOE) modes. Both eigenmodes highlight how two-way tropical–extratropical teleconnection dynamics are the primary mechanisms energizing and synchronizing the basin-scale footprint of PDV. While the NP-CP mode captures interannual- to decadal-scale variability, the KOE mode is linked to the basin-scale expression of PDV on decadal to multidecadal timescales, including contributions from the South Pacific.

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2023-01-16
2024-06-24
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