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Guosen Chen and Bin Wang

Abstract

Current theoretical studies have a debate on whether the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) has a zero or westward group velocity. A recent analysis of the observed Hovmöller diagram of MJO signals suggested that the MJO has a significant westward group velocity. Here it is shown that the observed MJO has a negligibly small group velocity, which is manifested in two aspects. First, on the wavenumber–frequency spectra diagram the precipitation spectra indicate quasi independence of the MJO frequency on wavenumber, suggesting a nearly vanishing group velocity. Second, on the Hovmöller diagram of the regressed intraseasonal daily precipitation, the MJO group velocity is defined by the propagation of the wave envelopes of the precipitation and is shown to be negligibly small for the eastward propagating signals. The causes of the discrepancy between this study and the recent study mentioned above are the calculating method and the data filtering process. The group velocity in the recent study is calculated by the propagation of local convection extrema, which does not necessarily indicate the propagation of the wave envelopes. More importantly, the westward propagation of the local convection extrema is an artifact of the data filtering. The Hovmöller diagram in the recent study was constructed by using only the eastward propagating wavenumber-1–5 signals. This truncation of data onto the planetary scales of the eastward wavenumber domain fails to resolve the Maritime Continent “barrier effect,” causing significant artificial westward propagation of local convection extrema.

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Bin Wang and Xiaosu Xie

Abstract

The tropical intraseasonal oscillation (ISO) exhibits pronounced seasonality. The boreal summer ISO is more complex than its winter counterpart due to the coexistence of equatorial eastward, off-equatorial westward, and northward propagating, low-frequency modes and their interactions. Based on observational evidence and results obtained from numerical experiments, a mechanism is proposed for the boreal summer ISO in which the Northern Hemisphere summer monsoon (NHSM) circulation and moist static energy distribution play essential roles.

With a climatological July mean basic state, the life cycle of model low-frequency waves consists of four processes: an equatorial eastward propagation of a coupled Kelvin–Rossby wave packet, an emanation of moist Rossby waves in the western Pacific, a westward propagation and amplification of the Rossby waves in South Asian monsoon regions, and a reinitiation of the equatorial disturbances over the central Indian Ocean. The life cycle spans about one month and provides a mechanism for self-sustained boreal summer ISO.

Analyses of the model experiments reveal that the monsoon mean flows and spatial variation of moist static energy trap equatorial disturbances in the NHSM domain. The reduction of moist static energy over the eastern central Pacific suppresses equatorial convection, leading to disintegration of the equatorial Kelvin–Rossby wave packet and the emanation of Rossby waves in the western North Pacific. Strong easterly vertical shears and seasonally enhanced boundary layer humidity in the NHSM further amplify the Rossby waves (of the gravest meridional mode), making their structures highly asymmetric about the equator. The intensified Rossby waves start to stall and decay when approaching the Arabian Sea due to the “blocking” of the sinking dry air mass over North Africa, meanwhile triggering equatorial convection. The mean Hadley circulation plays a critical role in reinitiation of the equatorial Kelvin–Rossby wave packet over the equatorial Indian Ocean.

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Bin Wang and Zhen Fan

In the south Asian region, two of the major precipitation maxima associated with areas of intensive convective activity are located near the Bay of Bengal and in the vicinity of the Philippines. The variations of monthly mean outgoing longwave radiation in the two regions are poorly correlated, particularly in the decade of 1980s. The enhanced convection over the Bay of Bengal and Indian subcontinents is coupled with reinforced monsoon circulation west of 80°E over India, the western Indian Ocean, and the tropical northern Africa. In contrast, the enhanced convection in the vicinity of the Philippines corresponds to intensified monsoon circulation primarily east of 80°E over southeast Asia including the Indochina peninsula, South China Sea, Philippine Sea, and the Maritime Continent. To better reflect regional monsoon characteristics, two convection indices (or associated circulation indices that are dynamically coherent with the convection indices) are suggested to measure the variability of the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) and the southeast Asian summer monsoon, respectively.

The change in the Bay of Bengal convection (the ISM) has planetary-scale implications, whereas the change in Philippine convection has primarily a regional impact including a linkage with the east Asia subtropical monsoon. The equatorial western Pacific winds exhibit a considerably higher correlation with the ISM convection than with the Philippine convection. During the summers when a major Pacific warm episode occurs (e.g., 1982–83, 1986–87, 1991–92, and 1997), the convection and circulation indices describing the ISM often diverge considerably, causing inconsistency among various normally coherent monsoon indices. This poses a primary difficulty for using a single monsoon index to characterize the interannual variability of a regional monsoon. The cause of the breakdown of the coherence between various convection and circulation indices during ENSO warm phase needs to be understood.

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Bin Wang and LinHo

Abstract

To date, the monsoon-research community has not yet reached a consensus on a unified definition of monsoon rainy season or on the linkage between the onsets over the Asian continent and the adjacent oceans. A single rainfall parameter is proposed, and a suite of universal criteria for defining the domain, onset, peak, and withdrawal of the rainy season are developed. These results reveal a cohesive spatial–temporal structure of the Asian–Pacific monsoon rainy season characteristics, which will facilitate validation of monsoon hydrological cycles simulated by climate system models and improve our understanding of monsoon dynamics.

The large-scale onset of the Asian monsoon rainy season consists of two phases. The first phase begins with the rainfall surges over the South China Sea (SCS) in mid-May, which establishes a planetary-scale monsoon rainband extending from the south Asian marginal seas (the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the SCS) to the subtropical western North Pacific (WNP). The rainband then advances northwestward, initiating the continental Indian rainy season, the Chinese mei-yu, and the Japanese baiu in early to mid-June (the second phase). The heights of the rainy seasons occur primarily in three stepwise phases: in late June over the mei-yu/baiu regions, the northern Bay of Bengal, and the vicinity of the Philippines, in late July over India and northern China; and in mid-August over the tropical WNP. The rainy season retreats northward over east Asia, yet it moves southward over India and the WNP.

Clear distinctions in the characteristics of the rainy season exist among the Indian, east Asian, and WNP summer monsoon regions. Nevertheless, the rainy seasons of the three subsystems also show close linkage. The causes of the regional distinctions and linkages are discussed. Also discussed are the atypical monsoon rainy seasons, such as the skewed and bimodal seasonal distributions found in various places of Asian monsoon domain.

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Fei Liu and Bin Wang

Abstract

The impact of horizontal advection of seasonal-mean moisture (SMM) on Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) dynamics is investigated here using a theoretical model that includes moisture advection processes. The zonal advection of SMM with an eastward gradient is found to produce planetary-scale instability and promote slow eastward propagation corresponding to an intraseasonal periodicity. This is because the SMM advection by an anomalous easterly of the Kelvin waves generates a moisture source to the east of precipitation, which favors eastward propagation and unstable growth. On the other hand, the advection of SMM with a westward gradient results in a westward-propagating unstable mode. For a realistic SMM distribution, the simulated eastward propagation is enhanced over the Indo-Pacific warm pool, while the westward propagation prevails over the central-eastern Pacific. In contrast to the zonal advection of SMM, the meridional advection of SMM only affects short waves and leaves planetary waves nearly unaffected.

The effect of zonal advection of SMM suggests an important mechanism for explaining the eastward propagation and growth of the MJO over the Indo-Pacific warm pool when the SMM increases eastward. However, this mechanism alone produces unrealistic Kelvin wave–like structure and strong westward propagation in the central-eastern Pacific; both disagree with observations. These caveats, however, can be remitted if the planetary boundary layer (PBL) moisture convergence feedback is included, which couples the Kelvin wave and the Rossby wave via precipitation heating, producing a realistic horizontal structure and also substantially suppressing the unrealistically growing, westward-propagating mode in the central-eastern Pacific.

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Fei Liu and Bin Wang

Abstract

This work is an extension and improvement of the minimal Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) “skeleton” model developed by Majda and Stechmann, which can capture some important features of the MJO—slow eastward propagation, quadrupole-vortex structure, and independence of frequency on wavelength—but is unable to produce unstable growth and selection of eastward-propagating planetary waves. With the addition of planetary boundary layer frictional moisture convergence, these deficiencies can be remedied. The frictional boundary layer “selects” the planetary-scale eastward propagation as the most unstable mode, but the dynamics remains confined to atmospheric processes only. Here the authors study the role of air–sea interaction by implementing an oceanic mixed-layer (ML) model of Wang and Xie into the MJO skeleton model. In this new air–sea coupled skeleton model, the features of the original skeleton model remain; additionally, the air–sea interaction under mean westerly winds is shown to produce a strong instability that selectively destabilizes the eastward-propagating planetary-scale waves. Although the cloud–shortwave radiation–sea surface temperature (CRS) feedback destabilizes both eastward and westward modes, the air–sea feedback associated with the evaporation and oceanic entrainment favors planetary-scale eastward modes. Over the Western Hemisphere where easterly background winds prevail, the evaporation and entrainment feedbacks yield damped modes, indicating that longitudinal variation of the mean surface winds plays an important role in regulation of the MJO intensity in addition to the longitudinal variation of the mean sea surface temperature or mean moist static stability. This theoretical analysis suggests that accurate simulation of the climatological mean state is critical for capturing the realistic air–sea interaction and thus the MJO.

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Guosen Chen and Bin Wang

Abstract

The skeleton model is one of the theoretical models for understanding the essence of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The heating parameterization scheme in the skeleton model assumes that precipitation tendency is in phase and proportional to the low-level moisture anomaly. The authors show that the observed MJO precipitation tendency is not in phase with the low-level moisture anomaly. The consequence of the wave activity envelope (WAE) scheme is reexamined by using a general MJO theoretical framework in which trio-interaction among convective heating, moisture, and wave–boundary layer (BL) dynamics are included and various simplified convective schemes can be accommodated. Without the BL dynamics, the general model framework can be reduced to the original skeleton model. The authors show that the original skeleton model yields a neutral mode that exhibits a “quadrupole” horizontal structure and a quadrature relationship between precipitation and low-level moisture; both are inconsistent with observations. With the BL dynamics and damping included, the model can produce a growing mode with improved horizontal structure and precipitation–moisture relationship, but deficiencies remain because of the WAE scheme. The authors further demonstrate that the general model with the simplified Betts–Miller scheme and BL dynamics can produce a realistic horizontal structure (coupled Kelvin–Rossby wave structure) and precipitation–moisture relationship (i.e., the BL moisture convergence leads precipitation, and column-integrated moisture coincides with precipitation).

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Baozhen Zhu and Bin Wang

Abstract

The tropical Indian and western Pacific oceans are two prominent action centers for tropical 30–60-day convective variability. When convection is enhanced over the equatorial Indian Ocean, the tropical western Pacific often experiences an abnormal dry condition (phase I), whereas the development of the convection over the tropical western Pacific tends to be accompanied by suppressed convection in the equatorial Indian Ocean (phase II). This convection seesaw is a fundamental characteristic of the tropical 30–60-day oscillation.

The seesaw is intimately associated with the activity of propagating low-frequency convective systems (LFCSs). Its formation process is season dependent. Typical boreal summer seesaw results from a time-lagged development of two systems: a western system that originates in the equatorial Indian Ocean and moves eastward and/or northward and an eastern system that develops in the western Pacific monsoon region and moves westward and/or northward. The boreal winter seesaw, on the other hand, is caused by the longitudinal dependence of the evolution of eastward-moving LFCSs that strongly amplify in the equatorial Indian Ocean, weaken and/or split when rapidly passing over the maritime continent, and reintensify in the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ).

There are two phases of the seesaw. During the first phase, the LFCSs interact with the Indian monsoon in boreal summer and Indonesian–Australian monsoon in boreal winter. Likewise, during the second phase, the LFCSs interplay with monsoon circulations over the western Pacific monsoon trough in boreal summer and over the SPCZ in boreal winter. The convection seesaw activity is closely tied to the corresponding active-break monsoon cycles over the two polar regions of the seesaw.

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Yoshiyuki Kajikawa and Bin Wang

Abstract

A significant advance in the onset dates of the South China Sea summer monsoon (SCSSM) is detected around 1993/94: the epochal mean onset date is 30 May for 1979–93 and 14 May for 1994–2008. The relatively late onset during the first epoch is primarily determined by the northward seasonal march of the intertropical convergence zone, whereas the advanced onset during the second epoch is affected by the enhanced activity of northwestward-moving tropical disturbances from the equatorial western Pacific. During 1994–2008, the intraseasonal variability (ISV) over the western Pacific was enhanced during the period from mid-April to mid-May; further, the number of tropical cyclones (TCs), which passed through the South China Sea (SCS) and Philippine Sea during the same period, is about doubled compared with those occurring during 1979–93. This enhanced ISV and TC activity over the SCS and Philippine Sea are attributed to a significant increase in SST over the equatorial western Pacific from the 1980s to 2000s. Therefore, the advanced SCSSM onset is rooted in the decadal change of the SST over the equatorial western Pacific.

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Guosen Chen and Bin Wang

Abstract

Well-organized eastward propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is found to be accompanied by the leading suppressed convection (LSC) over the Maritime Continent (MC) and the western Pacific (WP) when the MJO convection is in the Indian Ocean (IO). However, it remains unclear how the LSC influences the MJO and what causes the LSC. The present study shows that the LSC is a prevailing precursor for eastward propagation of the MJO across the MC. The LSC enhances the coupling of IO convection and the Walker cell to its east [front Walker cell (FWC)] by increasing the zonal heating gradient. The enhanced FWC strengthens the low-level easterly, which increases boundary layer (BL) convergence and promotes congestus convection to the east of the deep convection; the enhanced congestus convection preconditions the lower to middle atmosphere, which further promotes the transition from congestus to deep convection and leads to eastward propagation of the MJO. The MJO ceases eastward propagation once the FWC decouples from it. Further analysis reveals that LSC has two major origins: one comes from the eastward propagation of the preceding IO dry phase associated with the MJO, and the other develops concurrently with the IO convection. In the latter case, the development of the LSC is brought about by a two-way interaction between the MJO’s tropical heating and the associated tropical–extratropical teleconnection: the preceding IO suppressed convection induces a tropical–extratropical teleconnection, which evolves and forms an anomalous western North Pacific cyclone that generates upper-level convergence and induces significant LSC.

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