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An interesting thing pointed out by Jan Galkowski:
It involves a very crude simulation of the whole planet's climate, which predicts El Niños with a period of about 2 years, as opposed to the observed 2-7 year period.
I think the most interesting aspect of the model experiment was running the model several times with different inputs: CO2 forcing, changes in solar forcing due to orbital changes, the effect of changes in the ice sheets, the effect of meltwater from shrinking ice sheets, and one with all combined.
The figure reproduced below also suggests that the ice (green curve) had a strong effect at around 14,000 years ago (a big jump). Yet, the orbital (light blue) and meltwater (dark blue) gave an evolution that was closest to the effect of the combined forcing (black).
However, all this is very qualitative. I don’t see a clear picture on the connection between the forcers and El Niño, and I’m no wiser. The quote from the press release “El Niño is driven by an intricate tango between the ocean and the Earth’s atmosphere.” [Kelly April Tyrrell] is still quite descriptive in my mind.