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Ming Feng
Yongliang Duan
Susan Wijffels
Je-Yuan Hsu
Chao Li
Huiwu Wang
Yang Yang
Hong Shen
Jianjun Liu
Chunlin Ning
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Weidong Yu


Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) north of Australia in the Indonesian–Australian Basin are significantly influenced by Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), an eastward-moving atmospheric disturbance that traverses the globe in the tropics. The region also has large-amplitude diurnal SST variations, which may influence the air–sea heat and moisture fluxes, that provide feedback to the MJO evolution. During the 2018/19 austral summer, a field campaign aiming to better understand the influences of air–sea coupling on the MJO was conducted north of Australia in the Indonesian–Australian Basin. Surface meteorology from buoy observations and upper-ocean data from autonomous fast-profiling float observations were collected. Two MJO convective phases propagated eastward across the region in mid-December 2018 and late January 2019 and the second MJO was in conjunction with a tropical cyclone development. Observations showed that SST in the region was rather sensitive to the MJO forcing. Air–sea heat fluxes warmed the SST throughout the 2018/19 austral summer, punctuated by the MJO activities, with a 2°–3°C drop in SST during the two MJO events. Substantial diurnal SST variations during the suppressed phases of the MJOs were observed, and the near-surface thermal stratifications provided positive feedback for the peak diurnal SST amplitude, which may be a mechanism to influence the MJO evolution. Compared to traditionally vessel-based observation programs, we have relied on fast-profiling floats as the main vehicle in measuring the upper-ocean variability from diurnal to the MJO time scales, which may pave the way for using cost-effective technology in similar process studies.

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