Stronger Decadal Variability of the Kuroshio Extension under Simulated Future Climate Change

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Journal Article

Understanding the behavior of western boundary current systems is crucial for predictions of biogeochemical cycles, fisheries, and basin-scale climate modes over the midlatitude oceans. Studies indicate that anthropogenic climate change induces structural changes in the Kuroshio Extension (KE) system, including a northward migration of its oceanic jet. However, changes in the KE temporal variability remain unclear. Using large ensembles of a global coupled climate model, we show that in response to increasing greenhouse gases, the time scale of KE sea surface height (SSH) shifts from interannual scales toward decadal and longer scales. We attribute this increased low-frequency KE variability to enhanced mid-latitude oceanic Rossby wave activity induced by regional and remote atmospheric forcing, due to a poleward shift of midlatitude surface westerly with climatology and an increase in the tropical precipitation activity, which lead to stronger atmospheric teleconnections from El NiƱo to the midlatitude Pacific and the KE region. Greenhouse warming leads to both a positive (elongated) KE state that restricts ocean perturbations (e.g., eddy activity) and stronger wind-driven KE fluctuations, which enhances the contributions of decadal KE modulations relative to short-time scale intrinsic oceanic KE variations. Our spectral analyses suggest that anthropogenic forcing may alter the future predictability of the KE system.

npj Climate and Atmospheric Science
Date Published