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Convective Characteristics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation over the Central Indian Ocean Observed by Shipborne Radar during DYNAMO

Weixin XuColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Steven A. RutledgeColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

This study investigates the convective population and environmental conditions during three MJO events over the central Indian Ocean in late 2011 using measurements collected from the Research Vessel (R/V) Roger Revelle deployed in Dynamics of the MJO (DYNAMO). Radar-based rainfall estimates from the Revelle C-band radar are first placed in the context of larger-scale Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) rainfall data to demonstrate that the reduced Revelle radar range captured the MJO convective evolution. Time series analysis and MJO phase-based composites of Revelle measurements both support the “recharge–discharge” MJO theory. Time series of echo-top heights indicate that convective deepening during the MJO onset occurs over a 12–16-day period. Composite statistics show evident recharging–discharging features in convection and the environment. Population of shallow/isolated convective cells, SST, CAPE, and the lower-tropospheric moisture increase (recharge) substantially approximately two to three phases prior to the MJO onset. Deep and intense convection and lightning peak in phase 1 when the sea surface temperature and CAPE are near maximum values. However, cells in this phase are not well organized and produce little stratiform rain, possibly owing to reduced shear and a relatively dry upper troposphere. The presence of deep convection leads the mid- to upper-tropospheric humidity by one to two phases, suggesting its role in moistening these levels. During the MJO onset (i.e., phase 2), the mid- to upper troposphere becomes very moist, and precipitation, radar echo-top heights, and the mesoscale extent of precipitation all increase and obtain peak values. Persistent heavy precipitation in these active periods helps reduce the SST and dry/stabilize (or discharge) the atmosphere.

Corresponding author address: Weixin Xu, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Colorado State University, 3915 West Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521. E-mail: wxinxu@atmos.colostate.edu

This article is included in the DYNAMO/CINDY/AMIE/LASP: Processes, Dynamics, and Prediction of MJO Initiation special collection.

Abstract

This study investigates the convective population and environmental conditions during three MJO events over the central Indian Ocean in late 2011 using measurements collected from the Research Vessel (R/V) Roger Revelle deployed in Dynamics of the MJO (DYNAMO). Radar-based rainfall estimates from the Revelle C-band radar are first placed in the context of larger-scale Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) rainfall data to demonstrate that the reduced Revelle radar range captured the MJO convective evolution. Time series analysis and MJO phase-based composites of Revelle measurements both support the “recharge–discharge” MJO theory. Time series of echo-top heights indicate that convective deepening during the MJO onset occurs over a 12–16-day period. Composite statistics show evident recharging–discharging features in convection and the environment. Population of shallow/isolated convective cells, SST, CAPE, and the lower-tropospheric moisture increase (recharge) substantially approximately two to three phases prior to the MJO onset. Deep and intense convection and lightning peak in phase 1 when the sea surface temperature and CAPE are near maximum values. However, cells in this phase are not well organized and produce little stratiform rain, possibly owing to reduced shear and a relatively dry upper troposphere. The presence of deep convection leads the mid- to upper-tropospheric humidity by one to two phases, suggesting its role in moistening these levels. During the MJO onset (i.e., phase 2), the mid- to upper troposphere becomes very moist, and precipitation, radar echo-top heights, and the mesoscale extent of precipitation all increase and obtain peak values. Persistent heavy precipitation in these active periods helps reduce the SST and dry/stabilize (or discharge) the atmosphere.

Corresponding author address: Weixin Xu, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Colorado State University, 3915 West Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521. E-mail: wxinxu@atmos.colostate.edu

This article is included in the DYNAMO/CINDY/AMIE/LASP: Processes, Dynamics, and Prediction of MJO Initiation special collection.

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