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Biennial-Aligned Lunisolar-Forcing of ENSO: Implications for Simplified Climate Models
  • Paul Pukite,
  • AGU 2017 Fall Meeting
Paul Pukite

Corresponding Author:puk@umn.edu

Author Profile
AGU 2017 Fall Meeting


By solving Laplace’s tidal equations along the equatorial Pacific thermocline, assuming a delayed-differential effective gravity forcing due to a combined lunar+solar (lunisolar) stimulus, we are able to precisely match ENSO periodic variations over wide intervals. The underlying pattern is difficult to decode by conventional means such as spectral analysis, which is why it has remained hidden for so long, despite the excellent agreement in the time-domain. What occurs is that a non-linear seasonal modulation with monthly and fortnightly lunar impulses along with a biennially-aligned “see-saw” is enough to cause a physical aliasing and thus multiple folding in the frequency spectrum. So, instead of a conventional spectral tidal decomposition, we opted for a time-domain cross-validating approach to calibrate the amplitude and phasing of the lunisolar cycles. As the lunar forcing consists of three fundamental periods (draconic, anomalistic, synodic), we used the measured Earth’s length-of-day (LOD) decomposed and resolved at a monthly time-scale [1] to align the amplitude and phase precisely. Even slight variations from the known values of the long-period tides will degrade the fit, so a high-resolution calibration is possible. Moreover, a narrow training segment from 1880-1920 using NINO34/SOI data is adequate to extrapolate the cycles of the past 100 years (see attached figure). To further understand the biennial impact of a yearly differential-delay, we were able to also decompose using difference equations the historical sea-level-height readings at Sydney harbor to clearly expose the ENSO behavior. Finally, the ENSO lunisolar model was validated by back-extrapolating to Unified ENSO coral proxy (UEP) records dating to 1650. The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) behavior of equatorial stratospheric winds derives following a similar pattern to ENSO via the tidal equations, but with an emphasis on draconic forcing. This improvement in ENSO and QBO understanding has implications for vastly simplifying global climate models due to the straightforward application of a well-known and well-calibrated forcing. [1] Na, Sung-Ho, et al. “Characteristics of Perturbations in Recent Length of Day and Polar Motion.” Journal of Astronomy and Space Sciences 30 (2013): 33-41.