- The nature of the biennial oscillations in ENSO  — and specifically, what drives the differences in forcing between QBO and ENSO .
- Why do the tides in the Southern Pacific have a more strictly biennial (i.e. =2 year) periodicity than the quasi-biennial (i.e. ~2.33 year) oscillations in atmospheric wind?
- The tie-in to the Chandler wobble on the triaxial earth , which appears more significant for ENSO than for QBO.
- Phase reversals in the ENSO standing wave, particularly in 1981.
While collectively trying to resolve these issues, I discovered an intriguing pattern in the wave-equation transformation of the ENSO signal. This new pattern is based on defining precise sidebands +/- on each side of the exact biennial period. A pair of sinusoidal sidebands are formed when a primary frequency is modulated by another sinusoid.
The sidebands appear to match the period of three identified wobbles in the angular momentum of the rotating triaxial earth . These sidebands are sufficient to extrapolate most of the wave-equation transformed curve when fitting to either a large interval or to a short interval within the time series. The latter is simply a consequence of a shorter interval containing enough information to reconstruct the rest of the stationary time series. See Figure 1 below for examples of the effectiveness of the fit across various cross-sectional intervals and how well the short interval sampling extrapolates over the rest of the time series. Even as short a training interval as 15 years results in a fairly effective extrapolation, since 15 years is comparable to the longest constituent modulation period.
This new pattern is essentially a refined extension of the sloshing formulation I started with — but now the symmetry and canonical form is becoming much more readily apparent. The identified side-bands have periods of 6.5, 14.3, and 18.6 years, which you can understand from reading the fractured English in reference . These three periods are known modulations of the earth’s rotation (ala the Chandler wobble) and all fit in to the F(t) term of the biennial-modulated wave equation.