Can we distinguish canonical El Niño from Modoki? Journal Article uri icon



  • Following the recent discovery of the “Modoki” El Niño, a proliferation of studies and debates has ensued concerning whether Modoki is dynamically distinct from “Canonical” El Niño, how Modoki impacts and teleconnections differ, and whether Modoki events have been increasing in frequency or amplitude. Three decades of reliable, high temporal‐resolution observations of coupled ocean‐atmosphere variability in the equatorial Pacific reveal a rich diversity of El Niños. Although central and eastern Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies appear mechanistically separable in terms of local and remote forcing, their frequent overlap precludes robust classifications. All observed El Niños appear to be a mixture of locally (central Pacific) and remotely forced (eastern Pacific) SST anomalies. Submonthly resolution appears essential for this insight and for the proper dynamical diagnosis of El Niño evolution; thus, the use of long‐term monthly reconstructions for classification and trend analysis is strongly cautioned against.

publication date

  • October 16, 2013

has restriction

  • bronze

Date in CU Experts

  • November 12, 2015 7:06 AM

Full Author List

  • Karnauskas KB

author count

  • 1

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0094-8276

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1944-8007

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 5246

end page

  • 5251


  • 40


  • 19