Impacts of Idealized Air–Sea Coupling on Madden–Julian Oscillation Structure in the Superparameterized CAM

James J. Benedict Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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David A. Randall Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

Air–sea interactions and their impact on intraseasonal convective organization are investigated by comparing two 5-yr simulations from the superparameterized Community Atmosphere Model version 3.0 (SP-CAM). The first is forced using prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The second is identical except that a simplified oceanic mixed-layer model is used to predict tropical SST anomalies that are coupled to the atmosphere. This partially coupled simulation allows SSTs to respond to anomalous surface fluxes.

Implementation of the idealized slab ocean model in the SP-CAM results in significant changes to intraseasonal convective variability and organization. The more realistic treatment of air–sea interactions in the coupled simulation improves many aspects of tropical convection on intraseasonal scales, from the relationships between precipitation and SSTs to the space–time structure and propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). This improvement is associated with a more realistic convergence structure and longitudinal gradient of SST relative to MJO deep convection. In the uncoupled SP-CAM, SST is roughly in phase with the MJO convective center and the development of the Kelvin wave response and boundary layer convergence east of the convective center is relatively weak. In the coupled SP-CAM, maxima in SST lead maxima in MJO convection by cycle. Coupling produces warmer SSTs, a stronger Kelvin wave response, enhanced low-level convergence, and increased convective heating ahead (east) of the MJO convective center. Convective development east of the MJO precipitation center is more favorable in the coupled versus the uncoupled version, resulting in more realistic organization and clearer eastward propagation of the MJO in the coupled SP-CAM.

Corresponding author address: Jim Benedict, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523–1371. E-mail: jim@atmos.colostate.edu

Abstract

Air–sea interactions and their impact on intraseasonal convective organization are investigated by comparing two 5-yr simulations from the superparameterized Community Atmosphere Model version 3.0 (SP-CAM). The first is forced using prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The second is identical except that a simplified oceanic mixed-layer model is used to predict tropical SST anomalies that are coupled to the atmosphere. This partially coupled simulation allows SSTs to respond to anomalous surface fluxes.

Implementation of the idealized slab ocean model in the SP-CAM results in significant changes to intraseasonal convective variability and organization. The more realistic treatment of air–sea interactions in the coupled simulation improves many aspects of tropical convection on intraseasonal scales, from the relationships between precipitation and SSTs to the space–time structure and propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). This improvement is associated with a more realistic convergence structure and longitudinal gradient of SST relative to MJO deep convection. In the uncoupled SP-CAM, SST is roughly in phase with the MJO convective center and the development of the Kelvin wave response and boundary layer convergence east of the convective center is relatively weak. In the coupled SP-CAM, maxima in SST lead maxima in MJO convection by cycle. Coupling produces warmer SSTs, a stronger Kelvin wave response, enhanced low-level convergence, and increased convective heating ahead (east) of the MJO convective center. Convective development east of the MJO precipitation center is more favorable in the coupled versus the uncoupled version, resulting in more realistic organization and clearer eastward propagation of the MJO in the coupled SP-CAM.

Corresponding author address: Jim Benedict, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523–1371. E-mail: jim@atmos.colostate.edu
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