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Chen Li, Jing-Jia Luo, Shuanglin Li, Harry Hendon, Oscar Alves, and Craig MacLachlan

Abstract

Predictive skills of the Somali cross-equatorial flow (CEF) and the Maritime Continent (MC) CEF during boreal summer are assessed using three ensemble seasonal forecasting systems, including the coarse-resolution Predictive Ocean Atmospheric Model for Australia (POAMA, version 2), the intermediate-resolution Scale Interaction Experiment–Frontier Research Center for Global Change (SINTEX-F), and the high-resolution seasonal prediction version of the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS-S1) model. Retrospective prediction results suggest that prediction of the Somali CEF is more challenging than that of the MC CEF. While both the individual models and the multimodel ensemble (MME) mean show useful skill (with the anomaly correlation coefficient being above 0.5) in predicting the MC CEF up to 5-month lead, only ACCESS-S1 and the MME can skillfully predict the Somali CEF up to 2-month lead. Encouragingly, the CEF seesaw index (defined as the difference of the two CEFs as a measure of the negative phase relation between them) can be skillfully predicted up to 4–5 months ahead by SINTEX-F, ACCESS-S1, and the MME. Among the three models, the high-resolution ACCESS-S1 model generally shows the highest skill in predicting the individual CEFs, the CEF seesaw, as well as the CEF seesaw index–related precipitation anomaly pattern in Asia and northern Australia. Consistent with the strong influence of ENSO on the CEFs, the skill in predicting the CEFs depends on the model’s ability in predicting not only the eastern Pacific SST anomaly but also the anomalous Walker circulation that brings ENSO’s influence to bear on the CEFs.

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Wan-Ling Tseng, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, Noel Keenlyside, Chiung-Wen June Chang, Ben-Jei Tsuang, Chia-Ying Tu, and Li-Chiang Jiang

Abstract

This study uses the atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) ECHAM5 coupled with the newly developed Snow–Ice–Thermocline model (ECHAM5-SIT) to examine the effects of orography and land–sea contrast on the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) in the Maritime Continent (MC) during boreal winter. The ECHAM5-SIT is one of the few AGCMs that realistically simulate the major characteristics of the MJO. Three experiments are conducted with realistic topography, without orography, and with oceans only in the MC region to evaluate the relative effects of orography and land–sea contrast. Orography and land–sea contrast have the following effects on the MJO in the MC: 1) a larger amplitude, 2) a smaller zonal scale, 3) more realistic periodicity and stronger eastward-propagating signals, 4) a stronger southward detour during the eastward propagation, 5) a distorted coupled Kelvin–Rossby wave structure, and 6) larger low-level moisture convergence. The existence of mountainous islands also enhances the mean westerly in the eastern Indian Ocean and the western MC, as well as the moisture content over the MC. This enhancement of mean states contributes to the stronger eastward-propagating MJO. The findings herein suggest that theoretical and empirical studies, which are largely derived from an aquaplanet framework, have likely provided an oversimplified view of the MJO. The effects of mountainous islands should be considered for better understanding and more accurate forecast of the MJO.

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Satoru Yokoi, Shuichi Mori, Masaki Katsumata, Biao Geng, Kazuaki Yasunaga, Fadli Syamsudin, Nurhayati, and Kunio Yoneyama

Abstract

This study analyzes data obtained by intensive observation during a pilot field campaign of the Years of the Maritime Continent Project (Pre-YMC) to investigate the diurnal cycle of precipitation in the western coastal area of Sumatra Island. The diurnal cycle during the campaign period (November–December 2015) is found to have a number of similarities with statistical behavior of the diurnal cycle as revealed by previous studies, such as afternoon precipitation over land, nighttime offshore migration of the precipitation zone, and dependency on Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) phase. Composite analyses of radiosonde soundings from the Research Vessel (R/V) Mirai, deployed about 50 km off the coast, demonstrate that the lower free troposphere starts cooling in late afternoon (a couple of hours earlier than the cooling in the boundary layer), making the lower troposphere more unstable just before precipitation starts to increase. As the nighttime offshore precipitation tends to be more vigorous on days when the cooling in the lower free troposphere is larger, it is possible that the destabilization due to the cooling contributes to the offshore migration of the precipitation zone via enhancement of convective activity. Comparison of potential temperature and water vapor mixing ratio tendencies suggests that this cooling is substantially due to vertical advection by an ascent motion, which is possibly a component of shallow gravity waves. These results support the idea that gravity waves emanating from convective systems over land play a significant role in the offshore migration of the precipitation zone.

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Andung Bayu Sekaranom and Hirohiko Masunaga

Abstract

Properties of the rain estimation differences between Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) 2A25, TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) 2A12, and TRMM Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) 3B42 are investigated with a focus on distinguishing between nonextreme and extreme rains over the Maritime Continent from 1998 to 2014. Statistical analyses of collocated TMI 1B11 85-GHz polarization-corrected brightness temperatures, PR 2A23 storm-top heights, and PR 2A25 vertical rain profiles are conducted to identify possible sources of the differences. The results indicate that a large estimation difference exists between PR and TMI for the general rain rate (extreme and nonextreme events). The PR–TMI rain-rate differences are larger over land and coast than over ocean. When extreme rain is isolated, a higher frequency of occurrence is identified by PR over ocean, followed by TMI and TMPA. Over land, TMI yields higher rain frequencies than PR with an intermediate range of rain rates (between 15 and 25 mm h−1), but it gives way to PR for the highest extremes. The turnover at the highest rain rates arises because the heaviest rain depicted by PR does not necessarily accompany the strongest ice-scattering signals, which TMI relies on for estimating precipitation over land and coast.

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Xingwen Jiang, Jianchuan Shu, Xin Wang, Xiaomei Huang, and Qing Wu

Abstract

Floods and droughts hit southwest China (SWC) frequently, especially over the last decade. In this study, the dominant modes of summer rainfall anomalies over SWC on the interannual time scale and the possible causes are investigated. Interannual variability of the summer rainfall over SWC has two dominant modes. The first mode features rainfall increases over most of SWC except central Sichuan, and the second mode exhibits wet conditions in the north but dry conditions in the south. The suppressed convection over the Philippine Sea affects the first mode by inducing anomalous anticyclones over the western North Pacific and to the south of the Tibetan Plateau, which transport more water vapor to eastern Tibet and eastern SWC and hence favor above-normal rainfall there. The enhanced convection over the western Maritime Continent could generate similar atmospheric circulation anomalies associated with the suppressed convection over the Philippine Sea but with a northward shift, resulting in significant increases in rainfall over northeastern SWC but weak decreases in rainfall over southeastern SWC. As a result, the rainfall anomalies over SWC tend to be different between El Niño–Southern Oscillation decaying and developing phases because their different impacts on the convection over the Philippine Sea and the western Maritime Continent. Meanwhile, the sea surface temperature in the tropical southeastern Indian Ocean also plays an important role in variability of the rainfall over SWC because of its significant impact on the convection over the western Maritime Continent.

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See Yee Lim, Charline Marzin, Prince Xavier, Chih-Pei Chang, and Bertrand Timbal

Abstract

TRMM rainfall data from 1998–2012 are used to study the impacts and interactions of cold surges (CSs) and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) on rainfall over Southeast Asia during the boreal winter season from November to February. CSs are identified using a new large-scale index. The frequencies of occurrences of these two large-scale events are comparable (about 20% of the days each), but the spatial pattern of impacts show differences resulting from the interactions of the general flow with the complex orography of the region. The largest impact of CSs occurs in and around the southern South China Sea as a result of increased low-level convergence on the windward side of the terrain and increased shear vorticity off Borneo that enhances the Borneo vortex. The largest impact of the MJO is in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, sheltered from CSs by Sumatra. In general CSs are significantly more likely to trigger extreme rainfall. When both systems are present, the rainfall pattern is mainly controlled by the CSs. However, the MJO makes the environment more favorable for convection by moistening the atmosphere and facilitating conditional instability, resulting in a significant increased rainfall response compared to CSs alone. In addition to the interactions of the two systems in convection, this study confirms a previously identified mechanism in which the MJO may reduce CS frequency through opposing dynamic structures.

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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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