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Ephemeris calibration of Laplace's tidal equation model for ENSO
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  • Paul Pukite,
  • Dennis Coyne,
  • Dan Challou,
  • AGU Fall Meeting, 2018
Paul Pukite

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Dennis Coyne
Peak Oil Barrel
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Dan Challou
University of Minnesota
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AGU Fall Meeting, 2018


Conventional tidal prediction models typically combine constituent lunisolar forcing factors harmonically fit to sets of collected tidal gauge data. A harmonics analysis is favored over a precise orbital ephemeris-based gravitational forcing model, as tides are localized in scope and sensitive to a particular volume geometry. But what happens when the dynamic behavior is much larger in scale? As we have demonstrated previously [1], lunisolar tidal constituents forced by a strong biennial-modulated annual signal will provide a high-quality fit to ENSO – albeit subject to over-fitting of the numerous constituent factors available. Yet as ENSO is a large-scale phenomenon, it should be more amenable to applying a precise set of ephemeris data as the forcing to a Laplace’s tidal equation formulation. This should reflect the underlying physics governing the dynamics more realistically, while severely constraining the degrees of freedom (DOF) in factors which lead to the possibility of over-fitting. We used the NASA JPL Horizons (https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi) ephemeris data for the Sun and Moon as a parametric input to the well-known 1/R^3 gravitational forcing function and verify as good a quality fit as that available from a high-DOF harmonics approach. This extends over the modern-day instrumental record of ENSO but also covers the coral proxy records that span the years from 1650 to 1880. The approach works effectively because the extra DOF (including phases and elliptical nonlinearities in the orbits) needed to precisely define the gravitational forcing are accurately tracked by the Horizons ephemeris algorithm. Importantly, the results are highly sensitive to the relative forcing amplitudes, which is not surprising, since the fast lunisolar cycles are projected over spans of hundreds of years. The challenge is equivalent to attempting to perform a conventional tidal analysis over a similarly lengthy time span, while also dealing with noise and a limited resolution time-series. [1] Pukite, P.R. “Biennial-Aligned Lunisolar-Forcing of ENSO: Implications for Simplified Climate Models.” AGU Fall Meeting, 2017.