Equatorial Dry Air Intrusion and Related Synoptic Variability in MJO Initiation during DYNAMO

Brandon W. Kerns Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Shuyi S. Chen Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Abstract

Dynamics of the Madden–Julian oscillation (DYNAMO) was conducted over the equatorial Indian Ocean (IO) from October 2011 to March 2012. During mid- to late November, a strong Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) event, denoted MJO-2, initiated in the western IO and passed through the DYNAMO observation array. Dry air intrusions associated with synoptic variability in the equatorial region played a key role in the evolution of MJO-2. First, a sharp dry air intrusion surging from the subtropics into the equatorial region suppresses convection in the ITCZ south of the equator. This diminishes subsidence on the equator associated with the ITCZ convection, which leads to an equatorward shift of convection. It is viewed as a contributing factor for the onset of equatorial convection in MJO-2. Once the MJO convection is established, a second type of dry air intrusion is related to synoptic gyres within the MJO convective envelope. The westward-propagating gyres draw drier air from the subtropics into the equatorial region on the west side of the MJO-2. This dry air intrusion contributes to a 1–2-day break in the rainfall during the active phase of MJO-2. Furthermore, the dry air intrusion suppresses convection in the westerlies of the MJO in the IO. This favors the abrupt shutdown of MJO convection during transition to the suppressed phase in DYNAMO. The two types of dry air intrusions can redistribute convection from the ITCZ to the equator and favor the eastward propagation of the MJO convection. Further study of multiple MJO events is necessary to determine the generality of these findings.

Corresponding author address: Brandon Kerns, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149. E-mail: bkerns@rsmas.miami.edu

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

Abstract

Dynamics of the Madden–Julian oscillation (DYNAMO) was conducted over the equatorial Indian Ocean (IO) from October 2011 to March 2012. During mid- to late November, a strong Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) event, denoted MJO-2, initiated in the western IO and passed through the DYNAMO observation array. Dry air intrusions associated with synoptic variability in the equatorial region played a key role in the evolution of MJO-2. First, a sharp dry air intrusion surging from the subtropics into the equatorial region suppresses convection in the ITCZ south of the equator. This diminishes subsidence on the equator associated with the ITCZ convection, which leads to an equatorward shift of convection. It is viewed as a contributing factor for the onset of equatorial convection in MJO-2. Once the MJO convection is established, a second type of dry air intrusion is related to synoptic gyres within the MJO convective envelope. The westward-propagating gyres draw drier air from the subtropics into the equatorial region on the west side of the MJO-2. This dry air intrusion contributes to a 1–2-day break in the rainfall during the active phase of MJO-2. Furthermore, the dry air intrusion suppresses convection in the westerlies of the MJO in the IO. This favors the abrupt shutdown of MJO convection during transition to the suppressed phase in DYNAMO. The two types of dry air intrusions can redistribute convection from the ITCZ to the equator and favor the eastward propagation of the MJO convection. Further study of multiple MJO events is necessary to determine the generality of these findings.

Corresponding author address: Brandon Kerns, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149. E-mail: bkerns@rsmas.miami.edu

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

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