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Claire L. Vincent and Todd P. Lane

Abstract

The Maritime Continent is one of the wettest regions on the planet and has been shown to be important for global budgets of heat and moisture. Convection in the region, however, varies on several interrelated scales, making it difficult to quantify the precipitation climate and understand the key processes. For example, the diurnal cycle in precipitation over the land varies substantially according to the phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), and the diurnal precipitation cycle over the water is coupled to that over the land, in some cases for distances of over 1000 km from the coast.

Here, a 10-yr austral summer climatology of diurnal and MJO-scale variations in rain rate over the land and sea over the Maritime Continent is presented. The climatology is based on mesoscale model simulations with a horizontal grid length of 4 km and satellite precipitation estimates. The amplitude of the observed diurnal precipitation cycle is shown to reach a maximum just prior to the MJO active phase, with a weaker secondary maximum after the MJO active phase. Although these two maxima also exist in the modeled diurnal precipitation cycle, there is less difference between the maxima before and after the MJO active phase than in the observations. The modeled sea-breeze circulation is also shown to possess approximately equal maxima just before and just after the MJO active period, suggesting that the asymmetry of the diurnal precipitation cycle about the MJO active period is related more to moisture availability than kinematic forcing.

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Chidong Zhang and Jian Ling

Abstract

Explanations for the barrier effect of the Indo-Pacific Maritime Continent (MC) on the MJO should satisfy two criteria. First, they should include specific features of the MC, namely, its intricate land–sea distributions and elevated terrains. Second, they should include mechanisms for both the barrier effect and its overcoming by some MJO events. Guided by these two criteria, a precipitation-tracking method is applied to identify MJO events that propagate across the MC (MJO-C) and those that are blocked by the MC (MJO-B). About a half of MJO events that form over the Indian Ocean propagate through the MC. Most of them (>75%) become weakened over the MC. The barrier effect cannot be explained in terms of the strength, horizontal scale, or spatial distribution of MJO convection when it approaches the MC from the west. A distinction between MJO-B and MJO-C is their precipitation over the sea versus land in the MC region. MJO-C events rain much more over the sea than over land, whereas rainfall over the sea never becomes dominant for MJO-B. This suggests that inhibiting convective development over the sea could be a possible mechanism for the barrier effect of the MC. Preceding conditions for MJO-C include stronger low-level zonal moisture flux convergence and higher SST in the MC region. Possible connections between these large-scale conditions and the land versus sea distributions of MJO rainfall through the diurnal cycle are discussed.

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Chen Li, Jing-Jia Luo, and Shuanglin Li

Abstract

The impacts of different types of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the interannual negative correlation (seesaw) between the Somali cross-equatorial flow (CEF) and the Maritime Continent (MC) CEF during boreal summer (June–August) are investigated using the ECMWF twentieth-century reanalysis (ERA-20C) dataset and numerical experiments with a global atmospheric model [the Met Office Unified Model global atmosphere, version 6 (UM-GA6)]. The results suggest that ENSO plays a prominent role in governing the CEF-seesaw relation. A high positive correlation (0.86) exists between the MC CEF and Niño-3.4 index and also in the case of eastern Pacific (EP) El Niño, central Pacific (CP) El Niño, EP La Niña, and CP La Niña events. In contrast, a negative correlation (−0.35) exists between the Somali CEF and Niño-3.4 index, and this negative relation is significant only in the EP El Niño years. Further, the variation of the MC CEF is highly correlated with the local north–south sea surface temperature (SST) gradient, while the variation of the Somali CEF displays little relation with the local SST gradient. The Somali CEF may be remotely influenced by ENSO. The model results confirm that the EP El Niño plays a major role in causing the weakened Somali CEF via modifying the Walker cell. However, the impact of the EP El Niño on the Somali CEF differs with different seasonal background. It is also found that the interannual CEF seesaw displays a multidecadal change before and after the 1950s, which is linked with the multidecadal strengthening of the intensity of the EP ENSO.

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Jieshun Zhu, Wanqiu Wang, and Arun Kumar

Abstract

The observed Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) tends to propagate eastward across the Maritime Continent from the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean to the western Pacific. However, numerical simulations present different levels of fidelity in representing the propagation, especially for the tropical convection associated with the MJO. This study conducts a series of coupled simulations using the NCEP CFSv2 to explore the impacts of SST feedback and convection parameterization on the propagation simulations. First, two simulations differing in the model horizontal resolutions are conducted. The MJO propagation in these two simulations is found generally insensitive to the resolution change. Further, based on the CFSv2 with a lower resolution, two additional experiments are performed with model SSTs nudged to climatologies with different time scales representing different air–sea coupling strength. It is demonstrated that weakening the air–sea coupling strength significantly degrades the MJO propagation simulation, suggesting the critical role of SST feedback in maintaining MJO propagation. Last, the sensitivity to convection parameterization is explored by comparing two simulations with different convection parameterization schemes. Analyses of these simulations indicate that including air–sea coupling alone in a dynamical model does not result in realistic maintenance of the MJO eastward propagation without the development of favorable SST conditions in the western Pacific. In both observations and one simulation with realistic MJO propagations, the preconditioning of SSTs is strongly affected by surface latent heat fluxes that are modulated by surface wind anomalies in both zonal and meridional directions. The diagnostics highlight the critical contribution from meridional winds in wind speed variations, which has been neglected in most MJO studies.

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