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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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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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Ángel F. Adames and Daehyun Kim
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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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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 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 non-negligible contributions to MJO maintenance and propagation in most RAs.

RAs that underestimate (overestimate) the strength of cloud-radiation feedback and the convective moisture adjustment timescale 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.

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Stephanie S. Rushley, Daehyun Kim, and Ángel F. Adames

Abstract

This study investigates changes to the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) in response to greenhouse gas–induced warming during the twenty-first century. Changes in the MJO’s amplitude, phase speed, and zonal scale are examined in five models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) that demonstrate superior MJO characteristics. Under warming, the CMIP5 models exhibit a robust increase in the spectral power of planetary-scale, intraseasonal, eastward-propagating (MJO) precipitation anomalies (~10.9% K−1). The amplification of MJO variability is accompanied by an increase of the spectral power of the corresponding westward-traveling waves at a similar rate. This suggests that enhanced MJO variability in a warmer climate is likely caused by enhanced background tropical precipitation variability, not by changes in the MJO’s stability. All models examined show an increase in the MJO’s phase speed (1.8% K–1–4.5% K−1) and a decrease in the MJO’s zonal wavenumber (1.0% K–1–3.8% K−1). Using a linear moisture mode framework, this study tests the theory-predicted phase speed changes against the simulated phase speed changes. It is found that the MJO’s acceleration in a warmer climate is a result of enhanced horizontal moisture advection by the steepening of the mean meridional moisture gradient and the decrease in zonal wavenumber, which is partially offset by the lengthening of the convective moisture adjustment time scale and the increase in gross dry stability. While the ability of the linear moisture mode framework to explain MJO phase speed changes is model dependent, the theory can accurately predict the phase speed changes in the model ensemble.

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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.

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Nicholas J. Weber, Clifford F. Mass, and Daehyun Kim

Abstract

Monthlong simulations targeting four Madden–Julian oscillation events made with several global model configurations are verified against observations to assess the roles of grid spacing and convective parameterization on the representation of tropical convection and midlatitude forecast skill. Specifically, the performance of a global convection-permitting model (CPM) configuration with a uniform 3-km mesh is compared to that of a global 15-km mesh with and without convective parameterization, and of a variable-resolution “channel” simulation using 3-km grid spacing only in the tropics with a scale-aware convection scheme. It is shown that global 3-km simulations produce realistic tropical precipitation statistics, except for an overall wet bias and delayed diurnal cycle. The channel simulation performs similarly, although with an unrealistically higher frequency of heavy rain. The 15-km simulations with and without cumulus schemes produce too much light and heavy tropical precipitation, respectively. Without convection parameterization, the 15-km global model produces unrealistically abundant, short-lived, and intense convection throughout the tropics. Only the global CPM configuration is able to capture eastward-propagating Madden–Julian oscillation events, and the 15-km runs favor stationary or westward-propagating convection organized at the planetary scale. The global 3-km CPM exhibits the highest extratropical forecast skill aloft and at the surface, particularly during week 3 of each hindcast. Although more cases are needed to confirm these results, this study highlights many potential benefits of using global CPMs for subseasonal forecasting. Furthermore, results show that alternatives to global convection-permitting resolution—using coarser or spatially variable resolution—feature compromises that may reduce their predictive performance.

Open access
Daehyun Kim, Jong-Seong Kug, and Adam H. Sobel

Abstract

Basinwide convective anomalies over the Indian Ocean (IO) associated with the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) sometimes propagate eastward and reach the west Pacific (WP), but sometimes do not. Long-term observations and reanalysis products are used to investigate the difference between the propagating and nonpropagating MJO events. IO convection onset events associated with the MJO are grouped into three categories based on the strengths of the simultaneous dry anomalies over the eastern Maritime Continent and WP. The IO convection anomaly preferentially makes eastward propagation and reaches the WP when the dry anomaly is stronger.

Analysis of the column-integrated moist static energy (MSE) budget shows that horizontal advection moistens the atmosphere to the east of the positive MSE anomaly associated with the active convection over the IO and is of sufficient magnitude to explain the eastward propagation of the positive MSE anomaly. Interpretation is complicated, however, by lack of closure in the MSE budget. A residual term, of smaller but comparable magnitude to the horizontal advection, also moistens the column to the east of the positive MSE anomaly. Nonetheless, the authors decompose the horizontal advection term into contributions from different scales and find that a dominant contribution is from free-tropospheric meridional advection by the intraseasonal time scale wind anomalies. The positive meridional advection in between the convective and dry anomalies is induced by the anomalous poleward flow, which is interpreted as part of the Rossby wave response to the dry anomaly. The poleward flow advects the climatological MSE, which peaks at the equator, and moistens to the east of IO convective anomaly.

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Nicholas J. Weber, Daehyun Kim, and Clifford F. Mass

Abstract

A convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin wave (CCKW) was observed over the equatorial Indian Ocean in early November 2011 during the DYNAMO field campaign. This study examines the structure of the CCKW event using two simulations made using the MPAS model: one with 3-km grid spacing without convective parameterization and another with a 15-km grid and parameterized convection.

Both simulations qualitatively capture the observed structure of the CCKW, including its vertical tilt and progression of cloud/precipitation structures. The two simulations, however, differ substantially in the amplitude of the CCKW-associated precipitation. While the 3-km run realistically captures the observed modulation of precipitation by the CCKW, the 15-km simulation severely underestimates its magnitude. To understand the difference between the two MPAS simulations regarding wave-convection coupling within the CCKW, the relationship of precipitation with convective inhibition, saturation fraction, and surface turbulent fluxes is investigated. Results show that the 15-km simulation underestimates the magnitude of the CCKW precipitation peak in association with its unrealistically linear relationship between moisture and precipitation. Precipitation, both in observations and the 3-km run, is predominantly controlled by saturation fraction and this relationship is exponential. In contrast, the parameterized convection in the 15-km run is overly sensitive to convective inhibition and not sensitive enough to environmental moisture. The implications of these results on CCKW theories are discussed.

Open access