Inter-basin and Multi-time Scale Interactions in generating the 2019 Extreme Indian Ocean Dipole

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
  • 2 Climate Prediction Center, NCEP/NWS/NOAA 5830 University Research Court, College Park, MD 20740, USA
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Abstract

An unprecedented extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole event (pIOD) occurred in 2019, which has caused widespread disastrous impacts on countries bordering the Indian Ocean, including the East African floods and vast bushfires in Australia. Here we investigate the causes for the 2019 pIOD by analyzing multiple observational datasets and performing numerical model experiments. We find that the 2019 pIOD is triggered in May by easterly wind bursts over the tropical Indian Ocean associated with the dry phase of the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation, and sustained by the local atmosphere-ocean interaction thereafter. During September-November, warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) in the central-western tropical Pacific further enhance the Indian Ocean’s easterly winds, bringing the pIOD to an extreme magnitude. The central-western tropical Pacific warm SSTA is strengthened by two consecutive Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) events that originate from the tropical Indian Ocean. Our results highlight the important roles of cross-basin and cross-timescale interactions in generating extreme IOD events. The lack of accurate representation of these interactions may be the root for a short lead time in predicting this extreme pIOD with a state-of-the-art climate forecast model.

Corresponding author: Lei Zhang, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80302, USA. Email: lezh8230@colorado.edu

Abstract

An unprecedented extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole event (pIOD) occurred in 2019, which has caused widespread disastrous impacts on countries bordering the Indian Ocean, including the East African floods and vast bushfires in Australia. Here we investigate the causes for the 2019 pIOD by analyzing multiple observational datasets and performing numerical model experiments. We find that the 2019 pIOD is triggered in May by easterly wind bursts over the tropical Indian Ocean associated with the dry phase of the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation, and sustained by the local atmosphere-ocean interaction thereafter. During September-November, warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) in the central-western tropical Pacific further enhance the Indian Ocean’s easterly winds, bringing the pIOD to an extreme magnitude. The central-western tropical Pacific warm SSTA is strengthened by two consecutive Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) events that originate from the tropical Indian Ocean. Our results highlight the important roles of cross-basin and cross-timescale interactions in generating extreme IOD events. The lack of accurate representation of these interactions may be the root for a short lead time in predicting this extreme pIOD with a state-of-the-art climate forecast model.

Corresponding author: Lei Zhang, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80302, USA. Email: lezh8230@colorado.edu
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