The Leading Pattern of Intraseasonal and Interannual Indian Ocean Precipitation Variability and Its Relationship with Asian Circulation during the Boreal Cold Season

Andrew Hoell Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Massachusetts—Lowell, Lowell, and School of Marine Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts

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Mathew Barlow Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Massachusetts—Lowell, Lowell, and School of Marine Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts

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Roop Saini Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Massachusetts—Lowell, Lowell, and School of Marine Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts

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Abstract

The leading pattern of precipitation for the Indian Ocean, one of the most intense areas of rainfall on the globe, is calculated for November–April 1979–2008. The associated regional circulation and thermodynamic forcing of precipitation over Asia are examined at both intraseasonal and interannual time scales. The leading pattern is determined using both empirical orthogonal function analysis of monthly precipitation data and a closely related index of daily outgoing longwave radiation filtered into intraseasonal (33–105 days) and interannual (greater than 105 days) components.

The leading pattern has a maximum in the tropical eastern Indian Ocean, and is closely associated with the Madden–Julian oscillation at intraseasonal time scales and related to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation at interannual time scales. Both time scales are associated with baroclinic Gill–Matsuno-like circulation responses extending over southern Asia, but the interannual component also has a strong equivalent barotropic circulation. Thermodynamically, both time scales are associated with cold temperature advection and subsidence over southwest Asia, with advection of the mean temperature by the anomalous wind more important at lower and midlevels and advection of the anomalous temperature by the mean wind more important at upper levels.

For individual months, the intraseasonal variability can overwhelm the interannual variability. Enhanced Indian Ocean convection persisted for almost the entire 2007/08 season in association with severe drought over southwest Asia, but a strong intraseasonal signal in January 2008 reversed the pattern, resulting in damaging floods in the midst of drought.

Current affiliation: University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California.

Corresponding author address: Andrew Hoell, Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, 4717 Ellison Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106. E-mail: hoell@geog.ucsb.edu

Abstract

The leading pattern of precipitation for the Indian Ocean, one of the most intense areas of rainfall on the globe, is calculated for November–April 1979–2008. The associated regional circulation and thermodynamic forcing of precipitation over Asia are examined at both intraseasonal and interannual time scales. The leading pattern is determined using both empirical orthogonal function analysis of monthly precipitation data and a closely related index of daily outgoing longwave radiation filtered into intraseasonal (33–105 days) and interannual (greater than 105 days) components.

The leading pattern has a maximum in the tropical eastern Indian Ocean, and is closely associated with the Madden–Julian oscillation at intraseasonal time scales and related to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation at interannual time scales. Both time scales are associated with baroclinic Gill–Matsuno-like circulation responses extending over southern Asia, but the interannual component also has a strong equivalent barotropic circulation. Thermodynamically, both time scales are associated with cold temperature advection and subsidence over southwest Asia, with advection of the mean temperature by the anomalous wind more important at lower and midlevels and advection of the anomalous temperature by the mean wind more important at upper levels.

For individual months, the intraseasonal variability can overwhelm the interannual variability. Enhanced Indian Ocean convection persisted for almost the entire 2007/08 season in association with severe drought over southwest Asia, but a strong intraseasonal signal in January 2008 reversed the pattern, resulting in damaging floods in the midst of drought.

Current affiliation: University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California.

Corresponding author address: Andrew Hoell, Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, 4717 Ellison Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106. E-mail: hoell@geog.ucsb.edu
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