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Pallav Ray and Chidong Zhang

Abstract

Mechanisms for extratropical influences on the initiation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) are investigated using numerical simulations and a global reanalysis product. Previous simulations by a tropical channel model captured the timing and gross features of the initiations of two MJO events and suggested that the initiations were due to influences from the extratropics. In this study, latitudinal transport of momentum from the extratropics is found to be crucial in generating the lower tropospheric westerlies in the tropics associated with the MJO initiation. The diagnoses of the zonal momentum budget for the MJO initiation region revealed that the advection by meridional winds could be important prior to the initiation of the MJO. The time evolution of the wave activity identifies its source over the southern Indian Ocean where it grows by extracting kinetic energy from the mean flow. The time scale of the lateral boundary conditions that is responsible for the MJO initiation is also investigated. The implications of the results and limitations of the approach are discussed.

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Pallav Ray and Tim Li

Abstract

A set of atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) experiments is designed to explore the relative roles of the circumnavigating waves and the extratropics on the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). In a “control” simulation, the model is forced by the climatological monthly sea surface temperature for 20 yr. In the first sensitivity experiment, model prognostic variables are relaxed in the tropical Atlantic region (20°S–20°N, 80°W–0°) toward the “controlled” climatological annual cycle to suppress the influences from the circumnavigating waves. In the second sensitivity experiment, model prognostic variables are relaxed in the 20°–30° latitude zones toward the controlled climatological annual cycle to suppress the influences from the extratropics (or the tropics–extratropics interactions). The numerical results demonstrate that the extratropics play a more important role in maintaining the MJO variance than the circumnavigating waves.

The simulations further show that both the tropical mean precipitation and the intraseasonal precipitation variability are reduced when the extratropical influences are suppressed. The in-phase relationship is primarily attributed to the effect of the mean state on perturbations. A moisture budget analysis indicates that a positive feedback to the mean precipitation by the anomalous moisture convergence is offset by a negative feedback due to the anomalous moisture advection. The change in the mean precipitation in the absence of extratropical influences is primarily determined by the change in the mean moisture convergence, which in turn is due to the change in circulation. This study is the first attempt to quantitatively separate the effects of the circumnavigating waves and the extratropics on the MJO. Implications and limitations of this study are discussed.

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Pallav Ray, Chidong Zhang, Jim Dudhia, and Shuyi S. Chen

Abstract

A mesoscale tropical channel model is used to study the long-standing problem of the initiation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). With initial and lateral boundary conditions provided by a global reanalysis, this model is able to reproduce the initiation and gross features of two observed MJO events up to 2 months after the start of simulations. This leads to a conjecture that these two MJO events are generated by the influences from the lateral boundaries. This conjecture is supported by a series of sensitivity tests. These sensitivity tests demonstrate that the simulated MJO initiation does not critically depend on detailed characteristics of sea surface temperature (varying versus constant in time, mean distribution from boreal spring versus winter), initial conditions (within a 10-day period), the latitudinal location of the lateral boundaries (21°–38°N and S), or even latent heating and moist processes. The only factor found critical to the reproduction of the MJO initiation is time-varying lateral boundary conditions from the reanalysis. When such lateral boundary conditions are replaced by time-independent conditions, the model fails to reproduce the MJO initiation. These results support the idea that extratropical influences can be an efficient mechanism for MJO initiation. Implications of these results are discussed.

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