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Sensitivity of MJO Simulation and Predictability to Sea Surface Temperature Variability

Hye-Mi KimSchool of Earth and Environmental Science, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea

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Carlos D. HoyosSchool of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

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Peter J. WebsterSchool of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

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In-Sik KangSchool of Earth and Environmental Science, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea

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Abstract

The influence of sea surface temperature (SST) on the simulation and predictability of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is examined using the Seoul National University atmospheric general circulation model (SNU AGCM). Forecast skill was examined using serial climate simulations spanning eight different winter seasons with 30-day forecasts commencing every 5 days, giving a total of 184 thirty-day simulations. The serial runs were repeated using prescribing observed SST with monthly, weekly, and daily temporal resolutions. The mean SST was the same for all cases so that differences between experiments result from the different temporal resolutions of the SST boundary forcing.

It is shown that high temporal SST frequency acts to improve 1) the MJO activity of 200-hPa velocity potential field over the entire Asian monsoon region at all lead times; 2) the percentage of filtered variance of the two leading EOF modes that explain the eastward propagation of MJO; 3) the power of the wavenumber 1 eastward propagating mode; and 4) the forecast skill of MJO, maintaining it for longer periods. However, the MJO phase relationship between MJO convection and SST, as is often the case with many atmosphere-only models, although well simulated at the beginning of forecast period becomes distorted rapidly as the forecast lead time increases, even with the daily SST forcing case. Comparison of AGCM simulations with coupled GCM (CGCM) integrations shows that ocean–atmosphere coupling improves considerably the phase relationship between SST and convection. The CGCM results reinforce that the MJO is a coupled phenomenon and suggest strongly the need of the ocean–atmosphere coupled processes to extend predictability.

Corresponding author address: Hye-Mi Kim, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, South Korea. Email: hmkim@climate.snu.ac.kr

Abstract

The influence of sea surface temperature (SST) on the simulation and predictability of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is examined using the Seoul National University atmospheric general circulation model (SNU AGCM). Forecast skill was examined using serial climate simulations spanning eight different winter seasons with 30-day forecasts commencing every 5 days, giving a total of 184 thirty-day simulations. The serial runs were repeated using prescribing observed SST with monthly, weekly, and daily temporal resolutions. The mean SST was the same for all cases so that differences between experiments result from the different temporal resolutions of the SST boundary forcing.

It is shown that high temporal SST frequency acts to improve 1) the MJO activity of 200-hPa velocity potential field over the entire Asian monsoon region at all lead times; 2) the percentage of filtered variance of the two leading EOF modes that explain the eastward propagation of MJO; 3) the power of the wavenumber 1 eastward propagating mode; and 4) the forecast skill of MJO, maintaining it for longer periods. However, the MJO phase relationship between MJO convection and SST, as is often the case with many atmosphere-only models, although well simulated at the beginning of forecast period becomes distorted rapidly as the forecast lead time increases, even with the daily SST forcing case. Comparison of AGCM simulations with coupled GCM (CGCM) integrations shows that ocean–atmosphere coupling improves considerably the phase relationship between SST and convection. The CGCM results reinforce that the MJO is a coupled phenomenon and suggest strongly the need of the ocean–atmosphere coupled processes to extend predictability.

Corresponding author address: Hye-Mi Kim, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, South Korea. Email: hmkim@climate.snu.ac.kr

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