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HOME > Expert Assessments > Climate Diagnostics Bulletin > Tropical Highlights

Tropical Highlights - December 2006


The pattern of tropical sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies during December 2006 featured warmer-than-average temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific (Fig. T18). Accordingly, the SST anomalies in the Niņo 4 and Niņo 3.4 regions remained positive (latest values of 1.2 and 1.3, respectively) (Table T2). The SST anomalies in the far eastern equatorial Pacific have decreased slightly, with a December value of 0.5 in the Niņo 1+2 region (Fig. T18, Table T2). Meanwhile, the Tahiti – Darwin SOI is negative (latest value: -0.5), primarily in response to higher-than-average pressure over Darwin , which has observed persistent positive SLP departures since May 2006 (Table T1, Figs. T1 and T19).

The oceanic thermocline, measured by the depth of the 20ēC isotherm along the equator, featured above average depth over most of the eastern Pacific during December (Figs. T15, T16).  Consistent with these conditions, oceanic temperatures at thermocline depth were 2-4ēC above average throughout most of the eastern equatorial Pacific (Fig. T17).

During December 2006, low-level easterly anomalies (more than 3.0 m s-1) were observed over the central equatorial Pacific and across Indonesia (Fig. T20). Enhanced convection (above-average rainfall amounts) was observed across the Indian Ocean as well as over the central equatorial Pacific, while suppressed convection (below-average rainfall amounts) was seen across Indonesia (Figs. T25 and E3). These wind and convection anomalies reflect an intensification of Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) activity, not the ongoing El Niņo.


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