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HOME > World Climate > Impacts of Tropical SST Variability on the Global Climate

Impacts of Tropical SST Variability on the Global Climate

Sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the tropics can significantly impact on the global climate through atmospheric circulation. El Niño/La Niña events, which are identified by SST fluctuations from the central to the eastern equatorial Pacific (NINO.3), are widely-known examples of this. In addition, SST variability in the western tropical Pacific (NINO.WEST) and the tropical Indian Ocean (IOBW) may also have significantly affect climate conditions around the world (see the figure/table below for information on NINO.3, NINO.WEST and IOBW). JMA surveyed these impacts and summarized them in schematic chart form.

Area Latitude Longitude

Eastern equatorial Pacific (NINO.3)



Western tropical Pacific (NINO.WEST)



Tropical Indian Ocean (IOBW)



Schematic Charts

Schematic charts indicate typical anomaly patterns of surface temperature and precipitation for each season (boreal spring, summer, autumn and winter) as seen in past warmer/cooler SST events in the area of NINO.3 (corresponding to El Niño/La Niña events), NINO.WEST and IOBW. The figures below are examples for El Niño and La Niña impacts in boreal winter (from December through February). These results are based on observation and Japanese 55-year Reanalysis (JRA-55) data from 1958 through 2012 (a period of 55 years).

Global impacts associated with El Niño events Global impacts associated with La Niña events

Impacts of El Niño in boreal winter
(Click the figure to jump to schematics for El Niño impacts.)

Impacts of La Niña in boreal winter
(Click the figure to jump to schematics for La Niña impacts.)

More schematic charts are available on the pages shown below.
Previous temperature and precipitation anomalies:

The "Detailed Charts" page shows anomaly patterns of three-month-mean temperature and precipitation fields centered on each calendar month for previous warmer/cooler SST events in each of the three tropical areas with 5° x 5°-grid representation, from which the schematic charts described above were derived.

Data and Analysis Method

Data and analysis method details are provided on the "Data and Analysis Method" page.

Tokyo Climate Center, Climate Prediction Division, 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
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