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Kyle MacRitchie
and
Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

Previous works have shown that most of the rainfall embedded within the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) occurs in large eastward-moving envelopes of enhanced convection known as super cloud clusters. Many of these superclusters have been identified as convectively coupled Kelvin waves. In this work, a simple composite-averaging technique diagnoses the linear and nonlinear contributions to MJO potential vorticity (PV) structure by convection collocated with Kelvin waves. Results demonstrate that PV is generated coincident with active convection in Kelvin waves, but that this PV remains in the environment after Kelvin wave passage and becomes part of the structure of the MJO. Analysis of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) rainfall suggests that 62% of the total rainfall within the MJO occurs within the active convective phases of the Kelvin waves (88% higher than the rain rate that occurs outside of the Kelvin waves), supporting the hypothesis that diabatic heating in cloud clusters embedded within the Kelvin waves generates this PV.

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