DYNAMO/CINDY/AMIE/LASP: Processes, Dynamics, and Prediction of MJO Initiation

Description:

The 2011-12 MJO field campaign in the tropical Indian Ocean and its surrounding areas provided unprecedented observations to advance our understanding and prediction of the MJO, especially its convective initiation. This special collection includes publications that use the field campaign data and address broad issues related to MJO initiation. All studies on MJO initiation based on observations, modeling, and theories are welcome to this special collection. The overview article for this collection can be found here.

Collection organizer:
Chidong Zhang, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami

DYNAMO/CINDY/AMIE/LASP: Processes, Dynamics, and Prediction of MJO Initiation

Shuaibing Shao
,
Xin-Min Zeng
,
Ning Wang
,
Irfan Ullah
, and
Haishen Lv

Abstract

Currently, there is a lack of investigating moisture sources for precipitation over the upstream catchment of the Three Gorges Dam (UCTGD), the world’s largest dam. Using the dynamical recycling model (DRM), trajectory frequency method (TFM), and the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), this study quantifies moisture sources and transport paths for UCTGD summer precipitation from 1980 to 2009 based on two categories of sources: region-specific and source-direction. Overall, the land and oceanic sources contribute roughly 63% and 37%, respectively, of the moisture to UCTGD summer precipitation. UCTGD and the Indian Ocean are the most important land and oceanic sources, respectively, in which the southern Indian Ocean with over 10% of moisture contribution was overlooked previously. Under the influence of the Asian monsoon and prevailing westerlies, the land contribution decreases to 57.3% in June, then gradually increases to 68.8%. It is found that for drought years with enhanced southwest monsoon, there is a weakening of the moisture contribution from the C-shaped belt along the Arabian Sea, South Asia, and UCTGD, and vice versa. TFM results show three main moisture transport paths and highlight the importance of moisture from the southwest. Comparison analysis indicates that, generally, sink regions are more affected by land evaporation with their locations more interior to the center of the mainland. Furthermore, correlations between moisture contributions and indices of general circulation and sea surface temperature are investigated, suggesting that these indices affect precipitation by influencing moisture contributions of the subregions. All of these are useful for comprehending the causes of summer UCTGD precipitation.

Significance Statement

Quantitative research on the moisture sources of summer precipitation has been implemented for the upstream catchment of the Three Gorges Dam (UCTGD), which is of particular hydrological significance but has not been investigated previously. The dynamical recycling model (DRM)–trajectory frequency method (TFM) approach is used to quantify and interpret the results of the moisture sources both in different specific subregions and directions, which produce more meaningful results than a single method for the areal division of moisture sources. Furthermore, antecedent indices that significantly influence the following moisture contributions of the subregions and then summer UCTGD precipitation are studied in terms of large-scale general circulation indices, which would help our understanding of precipitation forecast for UCTGD.

Restricted access
Richard H. Johnson
,
Simon P. de Szoeke
,
Paul E. Ciesielski
, and
W. Alan Brewer

Abstract

The Indian Ocean is a frequent site for the initiation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The evolution of convection during MJO initiation is intimately linked to the subcloud atmospheric mixed layer (ML). Much of the air entering developing cumulus clouds passes through the cloud base; hence, the properties of the ML are critical in determining the nature of cloud development. The properties and depth of the ML are influenced by horizontal advection, precipitation-driven cold pools, and vertical motion. To address ML behavior during the initiation of the MJO, data from the 2011/12 Dynamics of the MJO Experiment (DYNAMO) are utilized. Observations from the research vessel Revelle are used to document the ML and its modification during the time leading up to the onset phase of the October MJO. The mixed layer depth increased from ∼500 to ∼700 m during the 1–12 October suppressed period, allowing a greater proportion of boundary layer thermals to reach the lifting condensation level and hence promote cloud growth. The ML heat budget defines an equilibrium mixed layer depth that accurately diagnoses the mixed layer depth over the DYNAMO convectively suppressed period, provided that horizontal advection is included. The advection at the Revelle is significantly influenced by low-level convective outflows from the southern ITCZ. The findings also demonstrate a connection between cirrus clouds and their remote impact on ML depth and convective development through a reduction in the ML radiative cooling rate. The emergent behavior of the equilibrium mixed layer has implications for simulating the MJO with models with parameterized cloud and turbulent-scale motions.

Restricted access
Paul E. Ciesielski
and
Richard H. Johnson

Abstract

During the Dynamics of the MJO (DYNAMO) field campaign, radiosonde launches were regularly conducted from three small islands/atolls (Malé and Gan, Maldives, and Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory) as part of a large-scale sounding network. Comparison of island upsondes with nearby and near-contemporaneous dropsondes over the ocean provides evidence for the magnitude and scope of the islands’ influence on the surrounding atmosphere and on the island upsonde profiles. The island’s impact on the upsonde data is most prominent in the lowest 200 m. Noting that the vertical gradients of temperature, moisture, and winds over the ocean are generally constant in the lowest 0.5 km of dropsondes, a simple procedure was constructed to adjust the upsonde profiles in the lowest few hundred meters to resemble the atmospheric structures over the open ocean. This procedure was applied to the soundings from the three islands mentioned above for the October–December 2011 period of DYNAMO. As a result of this procedure, the adjusted diurnal cycle amplitude of surface temperature is reduced fivefold, resembling that over the ocean, and low-level wind speeds are increased in ~90% of the island soundings. Examination of the impact of these sounding adjustments shows that dynamical and budget fields are primarily affected by adjustments to the wind field, whereas convective parameters are sensitive to the adjustments in thermodynamic fields. Although the impact of the adjustments is generally small (on the order of a few percent), intraseasonal wind regime changes result in some systematic variations in divergence and vertical motion over the sounding arrays.

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Simon P. de Szoeke
and
Eric D. Maloney

ABSTRACT

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) dominates tropical weather on intraseasonal 30–90-day time scales, yet mechanisms for its generation, maintenance, and propagation remain unclear. Although surface moist static energy (MSE) flux is greatest under strong winds in the convective phase, sea surface temperature (SST) warms by ~0.3°C in the clear nonconvective phase of the MJO. Winds converging into the hydrostatic low pressure under warm air over the warm SST increase the vertically integrated MSE. We estimate column-integrated MSE convergence using a model of mixed layer (ML) winds balancing friction, planetary rotation, and hydrostatic pressure gradients. Small (0.3 K) SST anomalies associated with the MJO drive 7 W m−2 net column MSE convergence averaged over the equatorial Indian Ocean ahead of MJO deep convection. The MSE convergence is in the right phase to contribute to MJO generation and propagation. It is on the order of the total MSE tendency previously assessed from reanalysis, and greater than surface heat flux anomalies driven by intraseasonal SST fluctuations.

Open access
Sharon L. Sessions
,
Stipo Sentić
, and
David J. Raymond

Abstract

Tropical convection that occurs on large-enough space and time scales may evolve in response to large-scale balanced circulations. In this scenario, large-scale midtropospheric vorticity anomalies modify the atmospheric stability by virtue of thermal wind gradient balance. The convective vertical mass flux and the moisture profile adjust to changes in atmospheric stability that affect moisture and entropy transport. We hypothesize that the convection observed during the 2011 DYNAMO field campaign evolves in response to balanced dynamics. Strong relationships between midtropospheric vorticity and atmospheric stability confirm the relationship between the dynamic and the thermodynamic environments, while robust relationships between the atmospheric stability, the vertical mass flux, and the saturation fraction provide evidence of moisture adjustment. These results are important because the part of convection that occurs as a response to balanced dynamics is potentially predictable. Furthermore, the diagnostics used in this work provide a simple framework for model evaluation, and suggest that one way to improve simulations of large-scale organized deep tropical convection in global models is to adequately capture the relationship between the dynamic and thermodynamic environments in convective parameterizations.

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James H. Ruppert Jr.
and
Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

An unfiltered zonal Hovmöller depiction of rainfall in the Maritime Continent (MC) reveals remarkable spatiotemporal continuity of zonally propagating disturbances with a diurnal period, which endure over multiple days and propagate faster than the individual convective storms they coupled with. This phenomenon and its sensitivity to the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) during the 2011/12 Dynamics of the MJO (DYNAMO) field campaign is examined here through a well-validated, convection-permitting model simulation conducted on a large domain. We find that these disturbances are zonally propagating diurnal gravity waves excited by vigorous nocturnal mesoscale convective systems over Sumatra and Borneo. These gravity waves are diurnally phase locked: their wavelength very closely matches the distance between these two islands (~1500 km), while their particular zonal phase speed (~±17 m s−1) allows them to propagate this distance in one diurnal cycle. We therefore hypothesize that these waves are amplified by resonant interaction due to diurnal phase locking. While these zonal gravity waves decouple from convection once beyond the MC, their divergent flow signature endures well across the Indian Ocean, provoking the notion that they may influence rainfall at far remote locations. The exact controls over this zonal phase speed remain uncertain; we note, however, that it is roughly consistent with diurnal offshore-propagating modes documented previously. Further study is required to tie this down, and more generally, to understand the sensitivity of these modes to background flow strength and the geography of the MC.

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Rachel C. Zelinsky
,
Chidong Zhang
, and
Chuntao Liu

Abstract

Understanding convective initiation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) remains an unmet challenge. MJO initiation has been perceived as a process starting from a convectively suppressed large-scale condition with gradual growth of shallow convection to congestus and to deep convective and stratiform systems that cover a large-scale area. During the DYNAMO field campaign over the Indian Ocean, MJO initiation was observed to start from an existing intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) south of the equator. This raises a question of what possible role the ITCZ may play in convective initiation of the MJO. This study addresses this question through analysis of satellite observations of precipitation and a global reanalysis product. By setting several criteria, MJO and ITCZ events were objectively identified and grouped according to whether MJO initiation was immediately preceded by an ITCZ. The results demonstrate that an ITCZ is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for convective initiation of the MJO. Nonetheless, evolution of the large-scale circulation, moisture, and convective characteristics during MJO initiation can be different with and without a preexisting ITCZ. Convective growth begins gradually before and during MJO initiation when there is a preexisting ITCZ whereas it is abrupt and slightly delayed without a preexisting ITCZ. Such differences are presumably related to the existing large-scale moist condition of the ITCZ. The results from this study suggest that there are multiple mechanisms for convective initiation of the MJO, which should be considered in theoretical understanding of the MJO.

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Angela K. Rowe
,
Robert A. Houze Jr
,
Stacy Brodzik
, and
Manuel D. Zuluaga

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) dominates the intraseasonal variability of cloud populations of the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. Suppressed MJO periods consist primarily of shallow and isolated deep convection. During the transition to an active MJO, the shallow and isolated deep clouds grow upscale into the overnight hours. During active MJO periods, mesoscale convective systems occur mostly during 2–4-day bursts of rainfall activity with a statistically significant early morning peak. Yet when these rain events are separated into individual active periods, some periods do not follow the mean pattern, with the November events in particular exhibiting an afternoon peak. The radar-observed microphysical processes producing the precipitation during the major rain events of active MJO periods evolve in connection with synoptic-scale wave passages with varying influences of diurnal forcing. MJO studies that do not account for the intermittency of rainfall during active MJO phases through averaging over multiple events can lead to the misimpression that the primary rain-producing clouds of the MJO are modulated solely by the diurnal cycle.

Open access
Brian Mapes
,
Arunchandra S. Chandra
,
Zhiming Kuang
,
Siwon Song
, and
Paquita Zuidema

Abstract

We seek to use ARM MJO Investigation Experiment (AMIE)-DYNAMO field campaign observations to significantly constrain height-resolved estimates of the parameterization-relevant, causal sensitivity of convective heating Q to water vapor q. In field data, Q profiles are detected via Doppler radar wind divergence D while balloon soundings give q. Univariate regressions of D on q summarize the information from a 10-layer time–pressure series from Gan Island (0°, 90°E) as a 10 × 10 matrix. Despite the right shape and units, this is not the desired causal quantity because observations reflect confounding effects of additional q-correlated casual mechanisms. We seek to use this matrix to adjudicate among candidate estimates of the desired causal quantity: Kuang’s matrix of the linear responses of a cyclic convection-permitting model (CCPM) at equilibrium. Transforming to more observation-comparable forms by accounting for observed autocorrelations, the comparisons are still poor, because (we hypothesize) larger-scale vertical velocity, forbidden by CCPM methodology, is another confounding cause that must be permitted to covary with q. By embedding and modified candidates in an idealized GCM, and treating its outputs as virtual field campaign data, we find that observations favor a factor of 2 (rather than 0 or 1) to small-domain ’s free-tropospheric causal q sensitivity of about 25% rain-rate increment over 3 subsequent hours per +1 g kg−1 q impulse in a 100-hPa layer. Doubling this sensitivity lies partway toward Kuang’s for a long domain that organizes convection into squall lines, a weak but sign-consistent hint of a detectable parameterization-relevant (causal) role for convective organization in nature. Caveats and implications for field campaign proposers are discussed.

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Hungjui Yu
,
Richard H. Johnson
,
Paul E. Ciesielski
, and
Hung-Chi Kuo

Abstract

This study examines the westward-propagating convective disturbances with quasi-2-day intervals of occurrence identified over Gan Island in the central Indian Ocean from mid- to late October 2011 during the Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) field campaign. Atmospheric sounding, satellite, and radar data are used to develop a composite of seven such disturbances. Composites and spectral analyses reveal that 1) the quasi-2-day convective events comprise westward-propagating diurnal convective disturbances with phase speeds of 10–12 m s−1 whose amplitudes are modulated on a quasi-2-day time scale on a zonal scale of ~1000 km near the longitudes of Gan; 2) the cloud life cycle of quasi-2-day convective disturbances shows a distinct pattern of tropical cloud population evolution—from shallow to deep to stratiform convection; 3) the time scales of mesoscale convective system development and boundary layer modulation play essential roles in determining the periodicity of the quasi-2-day convective events; and 4) in some of the quasi-2-day events there is evidence of counterpropagating (westward and eastward) cloud systems along the lines proposed by Yamada et al. Based on these findings, an interpretation is proposed for the mechanisms for the quasi-2-day disturbances observed during DYNAMO that combines concepts from prior studies of this phenomenon over the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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