The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) excites strong variations in extratropical geopotential heights that modulate extratropical weather, making the MJO an important predictability source on subseasonal to seasonal time scales (S2S). Previous research demonstrates a strong similarity of teleconnection patterns across MJO events for certain MJO phases (i.e., pattern consistency) and increased model ensemble agreement during these phases that is beneficial for extended numerical weather forecasts. However, the MJO’s ability to modulate extratropical weather varies greatly on interannual time scales, which brings extra uncertainty in leveraging the MJO for S2S prediction. Few studies have investigated the mechanisms responsible for variations in the consistency of MJO tropical–extratropical teleconnections on interannual time scales. This study uses reanalysis data, ensemble simulations of a linear baroclinic model, and a Rossby wave ray tracing algorithm to demonstrate that two mechanisms largely determine the interannual variability of MJO teleconnection consistency. First, the meridional shift of stationary Rossby wave ray paths indicates increases (decreases) in the MJO’s extratropical modulation during La Niña (El Niño) years. Second, a previous study proposed that the constructive interference of Rossby wave signals caused by a dipole Rossby wave source pattern across the subtropical jet during certain MJO phases produces a consistent MJO teleconnection. However, this dipole feature is less clear in both El Niño and La Niña years due to the extension and contraction of MJO convection, respectively, which would decrease the MJO’s influence in the extratropics. Hence, considering the joint influence of the basic state and MJO forcing, this study suggests a diminished potential to leverage the MJO for S2S prediction in El Niño years.

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