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Kazuyoshi Oouchi
and
Masaki Satoh

Abstract

This chapter proposes a working assumption as a way of conceptual simplification of the origin of Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO)-associated convection, or super cloud cluster (SCC). To develop the simplification, the importance of the synoptic-scale cold reservoir underlying the convection and its interaction with the accompanying zonal–vertical circulation is highlighted. The position of the convection with respect to that of climatological warm pool is postulated to determine the effectiveness of this framework. The authors introduce a prototype hypothesis to illustrate the usefulness of the above assumption based on a numerical simulation experiment with a global nonhydrostatic model for the boreal summer season.

Premises for the hypothesis include 1) that the cloud cluster (CC) is a basic building block of tropical convection accompanying the precipitation-generated cold reservoir in its subcloud layer and 2) that a warm-pool-induced quasi-persistent zonal circulation is key for the upscale organization of CCs. The theory of squall-line structure by Rotunno, Klemp, and Weisman (hereafter RKW) is employed for the interpretation. No account is taken regarding the influences of equatorial waves as a first-order approximation. Given the premises, an SCC of O(1000) km scale is interpretable as a gigantic analog of a multicellular squall line embedded in the quasi-stationary westerly shear branch of the zonal circulation east of the warm water pool. A CC corresponds to the “cell,” and its successive formation to the east and westward movement represents an upshear-tilting core of intense updraft. The upshear-tilted SCC is favorably maintained with the precipitating area being separated from the gust front boundary between the cold reservoir and a low-level easterly, which is supported in the realm of the RKW theory where two horizontal vortices associated with the cold reservoir and vertical shear are opposite in sign but cold reservoir’s vorticity can be inferred to be larger, leading to upshear-tilted and multicellular behavior. As a counterexample, CCs to the west of the warm pool (Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea) are embedded in the easterly shear and organized into a less coherent cloud cluster complex (CCC) given the situation of RKW where two horizontal vortices associated with the cold reservoir and vertical shear are still opposite in sign, but the smaller vertical shear west of the warm pool causes even more suboptimal vorticity imbalance in the western flank of cold reservoir, leading to larger tilt with height and intermittent, less viable storm situations.

A cold pool or cold reservoir, having been prevalent in mesoscale convection research, is argued to be important for the MJO as pointed out by the emerging evidence in the international field campaign for the MJO called Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability (CINDY)/DYNAMO. The simplified and idealistic hypothesis proposed here does not cover all aspects of MJO and its validation awaits further modeling and observational studies, but it can offer a framework for characterizing a fundamental aspect of the origin of MJO-associated convection.

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