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Climate Science: Investigating Climatic and Environmental Processes
Interannual Scale

The following animation from NOAA's Climate Diagnostic Center is one way to visualize the dynamics of ENSO based on the Zebiak-Cane model. (Cane, 1987.) Other models present different views of ENSO's irregular pulse.

From NOAA's Climate Diagnostic Center:
In the ocean, large-scale wave-like motions play a large role in ENSO (El Niño - Southern Oscillation). In this figure we see a perspective view of the entire Tropical Pacific Ocean. The animation follows the evolution of sea level (the undulating surface) and sea-surface temperature (color) for a Warm event followed by a Cold event as simulated by the numerical model of Battisti (1988). This model is a version of the Zebiak-Cane model, one of the first coupled atmosphere-ocean models used to make predictions of ENSO. Motions in the real world are significantly more complex than those shown here.
See Idealized ENSO Simulation for more.
Animated gif of idealized ENSO dynamics
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