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Daehyun Kang, Daehyun Kim, Min-Seop Ahn, and Soon-Il An

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.

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Lei Zhou, Ruomei Ruan, and Raghu Murtugudde

Abstract

Madden–Julian oscillations (MJOs) are a major component of tropical intraseasonal variabilities. There are two paths for MJOs across the Maritime Continent; one is a detoured route into the Southern Hemisphere and the other one is around the equator across the Maritime Continent. Here, it is shown that the detoured and nondetoured MJOs have significantly different impacts on the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ). The detoured MJOs trigger strong cross-equatorial meridional winds from the Northern Hemisphere into the Southern Hemisphere. The associated meridional moisture and energy transports due to the background states carried by the intraseasonal meridional winds are favorable for reinforcing the SPCZ. In contrast, the influences of nondetoured MJOs on either hemisphere or the meridional transports across the equator are much weaker. The detoured MJOs can extend their impacts to the surrounding regions by shedding Rossby waves. Due to different background vorticity during detoured MJOs in boreal winter, more ray paths of Rossby waves traverse the Maritime Continent connecting the southern Pacific Ocean and the eastern Indian Ocean, but far fewer Rossby wave paths traverse Australia. Further studies on such processes are expected to contribute to a better understanding of extreme climate and natural disasters on the rim of the southern Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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Marvin Xiang Ce Seow, Yushi Morioka, and Tomoki Tozuka

Abstract

Influences from the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans and atmospheric internal variability on the South China Sea (SCS) atmospheric circulation and cold tongue (CT) variabilities in boreal winter and the relative roles of remote forcings at interannual time scales are studied using observational data, reanalysis products, and coupled model experiments. In the observation, strong CT years are accompanied by local cyclonic wind anomalies, which are an equatorial Rossby wave response to enhanced convection over the warmer-than-normal western equatorial Pacific associated with La Niña. Also, the cyclonic wind anomalies are an atmospheric Kelvin wave response to diabatic cooling anomalies linked to both the decaying late fall negative Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and winter atmospheric internal variability. Partially coupled experiments reveal that both the tropical Pacific air–sea coupling and atmospheric internal variability positively contribute to the coupled variability of the SCS CT, while the air–sea coupling over the tropical Indian Ocean weakens such variabilities. The northwest Pacific anticyclonic wind anomalies that usually precede El Niño–Southern Oscillation–independent negative IOD generated under the tropical Indian Ocean air–sea coupling undermine such variabilities.

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Jieshun Zhu, Arun Kumar, and Wanqiu Wang

Abstract

This study revisits MJO predictability based on the “perfect model” approach with a contemporary model. Experiments are performed to address the reasons for substantial uncertainties in current estimates of MJO predictability, with a focus on the influence of atmospheric convection parameterization. Specifically, two atmospheric convection schemes are applied for experiments with the NOAA Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2). MJO potential predictability and prediction skill are assessed, with MJO indices taken as the first two principal components of the combined fields of near-equatorially averaged 200-hPa zonal wind, 850-hPa zonal wind, and outgoing longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere. Analyses indicate that the convection scheme alone can have substantial influence on the estimate of MJO predictability, with estimates differing by as much as 15 days. Further diagnostics suggest that the shorter predictability with one convection scheme is mainly caused by too weak of an MJO signal. The choice of atmospheric convection scheme also exerts effects on the phase dependency of MJO predictability, and the “Maritime Continent prediction barrier” is identified to be more evident with one convection scheme than with the other.

Free access
D. Argüeso, R. Romero, and V. Homar

Abstract

The Maritime Continent is the largest archipelago in the world and a region of intense convective activity that influences Earth’s general circulation. The region features one of the warmest oceans, very complex topography, dense vegetation, and an intricate configuration of islands, which together result in very specific precipitation characteristics, such as a marked diurnal cycle. Atmospheric models poorly resolve deep convection processes that generate rainfall in the archipelago and show fundamental errors in simulating precipitation. Spatial resolution and the use of convective schemes required to represent subgrid convective circulations have been pointed out as culprits of these errors. However, models running at the kilometer scale explicitly resolve most convective systems and thus are expected to contribute to solve the challenge of accurately simulating rainfall in the Maritime Continent. Here we investigate the differences in simulated precipitation characteristics for different representations of convection, including parameterized and explicit, and at various spatial resolutions. We also explore the vertical structure of the atmosphere in search of physical mechanisms that explain the main differences identified in the rainfall fields across model experiments. Our results indicate that both increased resolution and representing convection explicitly are required to produce a more realistic simulation of precipitation features, such as a correct diurnal cycle both over land and ocean. We found that the structures of deep and shallow clouds are the main differences across experiments and thus they are responsible for differences in the timing and spatial distribution of rainfall patterns in the various convection representation experiments.

Open access
Kevin E. Trenberth and Yongxin Zhang

Abstract

The net surface energy flux is computed as a residual of the energy budget using top-of-atmosphere radiation combined with the divergence of the column-integrated atmospheric energy transports, and then used with the vertically integrated ocean heat content tendencies to compute the ocean meridional heat transports (MHTs). The mean annual cycles and 12-month running mean MHTs as a function of latitude are presented for 2000–16. Effects of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF), associated with a net volume flow around Australia accompanied by a heat transport, are fully included. Because the ITF-related flow necessitates a return current northward in the Tasman Sea that relaxes during El Niño, the reduced ITF during El Niño may contribute to warming in the south Tasman Sea by allowing the East Australian Current to push farther south even as it gains volume from the tropical waters not flowing through the ITF. Although evident in 2015/16, when a major marine heat wave occurred, these effects can be overwhelmed by changes in the atmospheric circulation. Large interannual MHT variability in the Pacific is 4 times that of the Atlantic. Strong relationships reveal influences from the southern subtropics on ENSO for this period. At the equator, northward ocean MHT arises mainly in the Atlantic (0.75 PW), offset by the Pacific (−0.33 PW) and Indian Oceans (−0.20 PW) while the atmosphere transports energy southward (−0.35 PW). The net equatorial MHT southward (−0.18 PW) is enhanced by −0.1 PW that contributes to the greater warming of the southern (vs northern) oceans.

Open access
Wei-Ting Chen, Shih-Pei Hsu, Yuan-Huai Tsai, and Chung-Hsiung Sui

ABSTRACT

We studied the scale interactions of the convectively coupled Kelvin waves (KWs) over the South China Sea (SCS) and Maritime Continent (MC) during December 2016. Three KWs were observed near the equator in this month while the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) was inactive. The impacts of these KWs on the rainfall variability of various time scales are diagnosed, including synoptic disturbances, diurnal cycle (DC), and the onset of the Australian monsoon. Four interaction events between the KWs and the westward-propagating waves over the off-equatorial regions were examined; two events led to KW enhancements and the other two contributed to the formation of a tropical depression/tropical cyclone. Over the KW convectively active region of the MC, the DC of precipitation was enhanced in major islands and neighboring oceans. Over the land, the DC hot spots were modulated depending on the background winds and the terrain effects. Over the ocean, the “coastal regime” of the DC appeared at specific coastal areas. Last, the Australian summer monsoon onset occurred with the passage of a KW, which provided favorable conditions of low-level westerlies and initial convection over southern MC and the Arafura Sea. This effect may be helped by the warm sea surface temperature anomalies associated with the La Niña condition of this month. The current results showcase that KWs and their associated scale interactions can provide useful references for weather monitoring and forecast of this region when the MJO is absent.

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Shijian Hu, Ying Zhang, Ming Feng, Yan Du, Janet Sprintall, Fan Wang, Dunxin Hu, Qiang Xie, and Fei Chai

Abstract

Variability of oceanic salinity, an indicator of the global hydrological cycle, plays an important role in the basin-scale ocean circulation. In this study, interannual to decadal variability of salinity in the upper layer of the Indian Ocean is investigated using Argo observations since 2004 and data assimilating model outputs (1992–2015). The southeastern Indian Ocean shows the strongest interannual to decadal variability of upper-ocean salinity in the Indian Ocean. Westward propagation of salinity anomalies along isopycnal surfaces is detected in the southern Indian Ocean and attributed to zonal salinity advection anomalies associated with the Indonesian Throughflow and the South Equatorial Current. Composite and salinity budget analyses show that horizontal advection is a major contributor to the interannual to decadal salinity variability of the southern Indian Ocean, and the local air–sea freshwater flux plays a secondary role. The Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) modulate the salinity variability in the southeastern Indian Ocean, with low salinity anomalies occurring during the negative phases of the PDO and ENSO and high salinity anomalies during their positive phases. The Indonesian Throughflow plays an essential role in transmitting the PDO- and ENSO-related salinity signals into the Indian Ocean. A statistical model is proposed based on the PDO index, which successfully predicts the southeastern Indian Ocean salinity variability with a lead time of 10 months.

Open access
Jian Ling, Yuqing Zhao, and Guiwan Chen

ABSTRACT

The simulated Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) events in 27 general circulation models (GCMs) are identified using an MJO tracking method. The results suggest that the occurrence frequencies of simulated MJO events can represent a model’s ability to simulate several characteristics of the MJO to a certain extent during boreal winter, such as propagation range, strength, and termination longitude. All tracked MJO events are classified into those that propagate through the Maritime Continent (MC) (MJO-C) and those that do not (MJO-B), and the weakening and blocking effects on MJO propagation by the MC in GCMs were quantified. In general, if a GCM shows a stronger weakening effect on MJO strength over the MC, it tends to produce a stronger blocking effect on MJO propagation over the MC during boreal winter. The barrier effect of the MC on MJO propagation is exaggerated in most GCMs, while it can be underestimated in some GCMs, especially the coupled GCMs. Strong lower-tropospheric premoistening is identified ahead of the MJO convection center when it is over the central MC for MJO-C but not for MJO-B in most GCMs. Such strong premoistening is mainly attributed to the zonal gradient of lower-tropospheric easterly anomalies within the front Walker cell, which could be a precursor leading to the eastward propagation of MJO convection. In contrast to the observation, the role of the background sea surface temperature and land–sea precipitation contrast in the barrier effect on MJO propagation by the MC is not well captured by most GCMs.

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Yan Zhu, Tim Li, Ming Zhao, and Tomoe Nasuno

Abstract

The two-way interaction between Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and higher-frequency waves (HFW) over the Maritime Continent (MC) during boreal winter of 1984–2005 is investigated. It is noted from observational analysis that strengthened (weakened) HFW activity appears to the west (east) of and under MJO convection during the MJO active phase and the opposite is seen during the MJO suppressed phase. Sensitivity model experiments indicate that the control of HFW activity by MJO is through change of the background vertical wind shear and specific humidity. The upscale feedbacks from HFW to MJO through nonlinear rectification of condensational heating and eddy momentum transport are also investigated with observational data. A significantly large amount (25%–40%) of positive heating anomaly () at low levels to the east of MJO convection is contributed by nonlinear rectification of HFW. This nonlinear rectification is primarily attributed to eddy meridional moisture advection. A momentum budget diagnosis reveals that 60% of MJO zonal wind tendency at 850 hPa is attributed to the nonlinear interaction of HFW with other scale flows. Among them, the largest contribution arises from eddy zonal momentum flux divergence . Easterly (westerly) vertical shear to the west (east) of MJO convection during the MJO active phase causes the strengthening (weakening) of the HFW zonal wind anomaly. This leads to the increase (decrease) of eddy momentum flux activity to the east (west) of the MJO convection, which causes a positive (negative) eddy zonal momentum flux divergence in the zonal wind transitional region during the MJO active (suppressed) phase, favoring the eastward propagation of the MJO.

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