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Daehyun Kang
,
Daehyun Kim
,
Stephanie Rushley
, and
Eric Maloney

Abstract

This study investigates why the major convective envelope of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) detours to the south of the Maritime Continent (MC) only during boreal winter [December–March (DJFM)]. To examine processes affecting this MJO detour, the MJO-related variance of precipitation and column-integrated moisture anomalies in DJFM are compared with those in the seasons before [October–November (ON)] and after [April–May (AM)]. While MJO precipitation variance is much higher in the southern MC (SMC) during DJFM than in other seasons, the MJO moisture variance is comparable among the seasons, implying that the seasonal locking of the MJO’s southward detour cannot be explained by the magnitude of moisture anomalies alone. The higher precipitation variance in the SMC region is partly explained by the much higher moisture sensitivity of precipitation in DJFM than in other seasons, resulting in a more efficient conversion of anomalous moisture to anomalous precipitation. DJFM is also distinguishable from the other seasons by stronger positive wind–evaporation feedback onto MJO precipitation anomalies due to the background westerly wind in the lower troposphere. It is found that the seasonal cycle of moisture–precipitation coupling and wind–evaporation feedback in the SMC region closely follows that of the Australian monsoon, which is active exclusively in DJFM. Our results suggest that the MJO’s southward detour in the MC is seasonally locked because it occurs preferentially when the Australian monsoon system produces a background state that is favorable for MJO development in the SMC.

Open access
Adam Sobel
,
Shuguang Wang
, and
Daehyun Kim

Abstract

The authors analyze the column-integrated moist static energy budget over the region of the tropical Indian Ocean covered by the sounding array during the Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability in the Year 2011 (CINDY2011)/Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) field experiment in late 2011. The analysis is performed using data from the sounding array complemented by additional observational datasets for surface turbulent fluxes and atmospheric radiative heating. The entire analysis is repeated using the ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim). The roles of surface turbulent fluxes, radiative heating, and advection are quantified for the two MJO events that occurred in October and November using the sounding data; a third event in December is also studied in the ERA-Interim data.

These results are consistent with the view that the MJO’s moist static energy anomalies grow and are sustained to a significant extent by the radiative feedbacks associated with MJO water vapor and cloud anomalies and that propagation of the MJO is associated with advection of moist static energy. Both horizontal and vertical advection appear to play significant roles in the events studied here. Horizontal advection strongly moistens the atmosphere during the buildup to the active phase of the October event when the low-level winds switch from westerly to easterly. Horizontal advection strongly dries the atmosphere in the wake of the active phases of the November and December events as the westerlies associated with off-equatorial cyclonic gyres bring subtropical dry air into the convective region from the west and north. Vertical advection provides relative moistening ahead of the active phase and drying behind it, associated with an increase of the normalized gross moist stability.

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Ángel F. Adames
and
Daehyun Kim
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Ángel F. Adames
and
Daehyun Kim

Abstract

A linear wave theory for the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), previously developed by Sobel and Maloney, is extended upon in this study. In this treatment, column moisture is the only prognostic variable and the horizontal wind is diagnosed as the forced Kelvin and Rossby wave responses to an equatorial heat source/sink. Unlike the original framework, the meridional and vertical structure of the basic equations is treated explicitly, and values of several key model parameters are adjusted, based on observations. A dispersion relation is derived that adequately describes the MJO’s signal in the wavenumber–frequency spectrum and defines the MJO as a dispersive equatorial moist wave with a westward group velocity. On the basis of linear regression analysis of satellite and reanalysis data, it is estimated that the MJO’s group velocity is ~40% as large as its phase speed. This dispersion is the result of the anomalous winds in the wave modulating the mean distribution of moisture such that the moisture anomaly propagates eastward while wave energy propagates westward. The moist wave grows through feedbacks involving moisture, clouds, and radiation and is damped by the advection of moisture associated with the Rossby wave. Additionally, a zonal wavenumber dependence is found in cloud–radiation feedbacks that cause growth to be strongest at planetary scales. These results suggest that this wavenumber dependence arises from the nonlocal nature of cloud–radiation feedbacks; that is, anomalous convection spreads upper-level clouds and reduces radiative cooling over an extensive area surrounding the anomalous precipitation.

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Mu-Ting Chien
and
Daehyun Kim

Abstract

This study aims to deepen our understanding of the destabilization mechanisms and the mean-state modulation of the convectively coupled Kelvin waves (CCKWs) while testing simple models for CCKWs. We examine CCKW precipitation, vertical structure, and energetics in four modern reanalyses: the fifth version of ECMWF Reanalysis (ERA5), NASA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), the second version of the NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), and the Japanese 55-year Reanalysis (JRA-55). The CCKW precipitation signal strength in the wavenumber–frequency domain and the geographical distribution of CCKW precipitation variability are reasonably represented in all reanalyses, although they commonly underestimate the amplitude of CCKW precipitation. Despite considerable interreanalysis differences in the vertical structure of temperature and diabatic heating anomalies, the eddy available potential energy (EAPE) generation within the CCKWs is found to be associated with the second baroclinic mode whereas the first baroclinic mode damps CCKW EAPE in three out of four reanalyses. Geographically, strong CCKW activity occurs in the areas of high mean-state sea surface temperature (SST), where the second mode EAPE generation is higher, mainly due to a stronger stratiform heating and a tighter wave–convection coupling. Our results are supportive of the simple models for CCKWs in which CCKWs are destabilized within the second baroclinic mode component.

Free access
Daehyun Kang
,
Daehyun Kim
,
Min-Seop Ahn
, and
Soon-Il An

Abstract

This study investigates the role of the background meridional moisture gradient (MMG) on the propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) across the Maritime Continent (MC) region. It is found that the interannual variability of the seasonal mean MMG over the southern MC area is associated with the meridional expansion and contraction of the moist area in the vicinity of the MC. Sea surface temperature anomalies associated with relatively high and low seasonal mean MMG exhibit patterns that resemble those of El Niño–Southern Oscillation. By contrasting the years with anomalously low and high MMG, we show that MJO propagation through the MC is enhanced (suppressed) in years with higher (lower) seasonal mean MMG, although the effect is less robust when MMG anomalies are weak. Column-integrated moisture budget analysis further shows that sufficiently large MMG anomalies affect MJO activity by modulating the meridional advection of the mean moisture via MJO wind anomalies. Our results suggest that the background moisture distribution has a strong control over the propagation characteristics of the MJO in the MC region.

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Yuna Lim
,
Seok-Woo Son
, and
Daehyun Kim

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), the dominant mode of tropical intraseasonal variability, provides a major source of tropical and extratropical predictability on a subseasonal time scale. This study conducts a quantitative evaluation of the MJO prediction skill in state-of-the-art operational models, participating in the subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) prediction project. The relationship of MJO prediction skill with model biases in the mean moisture fields and in the longwave cloud–radiation feedbacks is also investigated.

The S2S models exhibit MJO prediction skill out to a range of 12 to 36 days. The MJO prediction skills in the S2S models are affected by both the MJO amplitude and phase errors, with the latter becoming more important at longer forecast lead times. Consistent with previous studies, MJO events with stronger initial MJO amplitude are typically better predicted. It is found that the sensitivity to the initial MJO phase varies notably from model to model.

In most models, a notable dry bias develops within a few days of forecast lead time in the deep tropics, especially across the Maritime Continent. The dry bias weakens the horizontal moisture gradient over the Indian Ocean and western Pacific, likely dampening the organization and propagation of the MJO. Most S2S models also underestimate the longwave cloud–radiation feedbacks in the tropics, which may affect the maintenance of the MJO convective envelope. The models with smaller bias in the mean horizontal moisture gradient and the longwave cloud–radiation feedbacks show higher MJO prediction skills, suggesting that improving those biases would enhance MJO prediction skill of the operational models.

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Pengfei Ren
,
Daehyun Kim
,
Min-Seop Ahn
,
Daehyun Kang
, and
Hong-Li Ren

Abstract

This study conducts an intercomparison of the column-integrated moist static energy (MSE) and water vapor budget of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) among six modern global reanalysis products (RAs). Inter-RA differences in the mean MSE, MJO MSE anomalies, individual MSE budget terms, and their relative contributions to the propagation and maintenance of MJO MSE anomalies are examined. Also investigated is the relationship between the MJO column water vapor (CWV) budget residuals with the other CWV budget terms as well as with the two parameters that characterize cloud–radiation feedback and moisture–convection coupling. Results show a noticeable inter-RA spread in the mean-state MSE, especially its vertical structure. In all RAs, horizontal MSE advection dominates the propagation of the MJO MSE while column-integrated longwave radiative heating and vertical MSE advection are found to be the key processes for MJO maintenance. The MSE budget terms directly affected by the model parameterization schemes exhibit high uncertainty. The differences in anomalous vertical velocity mainly contribute to the large differences in vertical MSE advection among the RAs. The budget residuals show large inter-RA differences and have nonnegligible contributions to MJO maintenance and propagation in most RAs. RAs that underestimate (overestimate) the strength of cloud–radiation feedback and the convective moisture adjustment time scale tend to have positive (negative) MJO CWV budget residual, indicating the critical role of these processes in the maintenance of MJO CWV anomalies. Our results emphasize that a correct representation of the interactions among moisture, convection, cloud, and radiation is the key for an accurate depiction of the MJO MSE and CWV budget in RAs.

Open access
Stephanie S. Rushley
,
Daehyun Kang
,
Daehyun Kim
,
Soon-Il An
, and
Teng Wang

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) exhibits pronounced seasonality, with one of the key unanswered questions being the following: what controls the maximum in MJO precipitation variance in the Southern Hemisphere during boreal winter? In this study, we examine a set of global climate model simulations in which the eccentricity and precession of Earth’s orbit are altered to change the boreal winter mean state in an attempt to reveal the processes that are responsible for the MJO’s amplitude in the boreal winter. In response to the forced insolation changes, the north–south asymmetry in sea surface temperature is amplified in boreal fall, which intensifies the Hadley circulation in boreal winter. The stronger Hadley circulation yields higher mean precipitation and stronger mean lower-tropospheric westerlies in the southern part of the Indo-Pacific warm pool. The MJO precipitation variability increases significantly where the mean precipitation and lower-tropospheric westerlies strengthen. In the column-integrated moisture budget of the simulated MJO, only surface latent heat flux feedback shows a trend that is consistent with the MJO’s amplitude, suggesting an important role for the surface latent heat flux feedback in the MJO’s amplitude during the boreal winter. An analysis of the moisture–precipitation relationship in the simulations shows that the increase in the mean precipitation lowers the convective moisture adjustment time scale, leading to the increase in precipitation variance. Our results suggest that the mean-state precipitation plays a critical role in the maintenance mechanism of the MJO.

Restricted access
Min-Seop Ahn
,
Daehyun Kim
,
Yoo-Geun Ham
, and
Sungsu Park

Abstract

The Maritime Continent (MC) region is known as a “barrier” in the life cycle of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). During boreal winter, the MJO detours the equatorial MC land region southward and propagates through the oceanic region. Also, about half of the MJO events that initiate over the Indian Ocean cease around the MC. The mechanism through which the MC affects MJO propagation, however, has remained unanswered. The current study investigates the MJO–MC interaction with a particular focus on the role of MC land convection. Using a global climate model that simulates both mean climate and MJO realistically, we performed two sensitivity experiments in which updraft plume radius is set to its maximum and minimum value only in the MC land grid points, making convective top deeper and shallower, respectively. Our results show that MC land convection plays a key role in shaping the 3D climatological moisture distribution around the MC through its local and nonlocal effects. Shallower and weaker MC land convection results in a steepening of the vertical and meridional mean moisture gradient over the MC region. The opposite is the case when MC land convection becomes deeper and stronger. The MJO’s eastward propagation is enhanced (suppressed) with the steeper (lower) mean moisture gradient. The moist static energy (MSE) budget of the MJO reveals the vertical and meridional advection of the mean MSE by MJO wind anomalies as the key processes that are responsible for the changes in MJO propagation characteristics. Our results pinpoint the critical role of the background moisture gradient on MJO propagation.

Free access