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The Role of the Background Meridional Moisture Gradient on the Propagation of the MJO over the Maritime Continent

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  • 1 a Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 2 b Department of Oceanography, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, South Korea
  • | 3 c Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
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Abstract

This study investigates the role of the background meridional moisture gradient (MMG) on the propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) across the Maritime Continent (MC) region. It is found that the interannual variability of the seasonal mean MMG over the southern MC area is associated with the meridional expansion and contraction of the moist area in the vicinity of the MC. Sea surface temperature anomalies associated with relatively high and low seasonal mean MMG exhibit patterns that resemble those of El Niño–Southern Oscillation. By contrasting the years with anomalously low and high MMG, we show that MJO propagation through the MC is enhanced (suppressed) in years with higher (lower) seasonal mean MMG, although the effect is less robust when MMG anomalies are weak. Column-integrated moisture budget analysis further shows that sufficiently large MMG anomalies affect MJO activity by modulating the meridional advection of the mean moisture via MJO wind anomalies. Our results suggest that the background moisture distribution has a strong control over the propagation characteristics of the MJO in the MC region.

Kang’s current affiliation: Chonnam National University, Gwangju, South Korea.

Ahn’s current affiliation: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Daehyun Kim, daehyun@uw.edu

This article is included in the YMC: Years of the Maritime Continent Special Collection.

Abstract

This study investigates the role of the background meridional moisture gradient (MMG) on the propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) across the Maritime Continent (MC) region. It is found that the interannual variability of the seasonal mean MMG over the southern MC area is associated with the meridional expansion and contraction of the moist area in the vicinity of the MC. Sea surface temperature anomalies associated with relatively high and low seasonal mean MMG exhibit patterns that resemble those of El Niño–Southern Oscillation. By contrasting the years with anomalously low and high MMG, we show that MJO propagation through the MC is enhanced (suppressed) in years with higher (lower) seasonal mean MMG, although the effect is less robust when MMG anomalies are weak. Column-integrated moisture budget analysis further shows that sufficiently large MMG anomalies affect MJO activity by modulating the meridional advection of the mean moisture via MJO wind anomalies. Our results suggest that the background moisture distribution has a strong control over the propagation characteristics of the MJO in the MC region.

Kang’s current affiliation: Chonnam National University, Gwangju, South Korea.

Ahn’s current affiliation: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Daehyun Kim, daehyun@uw.edu

This article is included in the YMC: Years of the Maritime Continent Special Collection.

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