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Adam Sobel and Eric Maloney

Abstract

The authors present a simple semi-empirical model to explore the hypothesis that the Madden–Julian oscillation can be represented as a moisture mode destabilized by surface flux and cloud–radiative feedbacks. The model is one-dimensional in longitude; the vertical and meridional structure is entirely implicit. The only prognostic variable is column water vapor W. The zonal wind field is an instantaneous diagnostic function of the precipitation field.

The linearized version of the model has only westward-propagating (relative to the mean flow) unstable modes because wind-induced surface latent heat flux anomalies occur to the west of precipitation anomalies. The maximum growth rate occurs at the wavelength at which the correlation between precipitation and surface latent heat flux is maximized. This wavelength lies in the synoptic- to planetary-scale range and is proportional to the horizontal scale associated with the assumed diagnostic wind response to precipitation anomalies.

The nonlinear version of the model has behavior that can be qualitatively different from the linear modes and is strongly influenced by horizontal advection of moisture. The nonlinear solutions are very sensitive to small shifts in the phasing of wind and precipitation. Under some circumstances nonlinear eastward-propagating disturbances emerge on a state of mean background westerlies. These disturbances have a shocklike discontinuous jump in humidity and rainfall at the leading edge; humidity decreases linearly and precipitation decreases exponentially to the west.

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Adam Sobel and Eric Maloney

Abstract

The authors discuss modifications to a simple linear model of intraseasonal moisture modes. Wind–evaporation feedbacks were shown in an earlier study to induce westward propagation in an eastward mean low-level flow in this model. Here additional processes, which provide effective sources of moist static energy to the disturbances and which also depend on the low-level wind, are considered. Several processes can act as positive sources in perturbation easterlies: zonal advection (if the mean zonal moisture gradient is eastward), modulation of synoptic eddy drying by the MJO-scale wind perturbations, and frictional convergence. If the sum of these is stronger than the wind–evaporation feedback—as observations suggest may be the case, though with considerable uncertainty—the model produces unstable modes that propagate weakly eastward relative to the mean flow. With a small amount of horizontal diffusion or other scale-selective damping, the growth rate is greatest at the largest horizontal scales and decreases monotonically with wavenumber.

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Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

The NCAR CCM3.6 with microphysics of clouds with relaxed Arakawa–Schubert convection produces an intraseasonal oscillation that is highly dependent on lower-tropospheric moistening by surface convergence. Model intraseasonal convection is most highly correlated with surface convergence at zero lag, causing enhanced convection to be associated with 850-mb easterly anomalies, where surface convergence is strongest. The tendency for surface convergence to maximize within 850-mb easterly anomalies is consistent with meridional frictional convergence into equatorial surface pressure troughs associated with planetary-scale tropical wave circulations. Anomalous vertical advection associated with meridional surface convergence influences model convection by moistening the lower troposphere. Observed Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) convection and lower-tropospheric specific humidity are also significantly correlated with surface convergence, although correlations are weaker than in the model, and convergence leads convection anomalies. Observed MJO enhanced convection tends to fall closer to the point of maximum convergence in the 850-mb equatorial zonal wind anomaly field. Although surface convergence appears important for both observed and model intraseasonal convection, the significant differences between observed and modeled intraseasonal variability suggest that interactions between convection and the large-scale circulation in the model are not completely realistic.

The wind-induced surface heat exchange (WISHE) mechanism cannot explain the preference for model intraseasonal enhanced convection to coincide with 850-mb easterly anomalies. When the effects of WISHE are removed by fixing the surface wind speed in the calculation of surface latent heat fluxes, the phase relationship between model intraseasonal wind and convection anomalies does not change. Removing WISHE may produce a more robust model intraseasonal oscillation, however. Model intraseasonal oscillation circulation features are better defined, and spectral power in the MJO band is more prominent when WISHE is removed.

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Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

The intraseasonal moist static energy (MSE) budget is analyzed in a climate model that produces realistic eastward-propagating tropical intraseasonal wind and precipitation variability. Consistent with the recharge–discharge paradigm for tropical intraseasonal variability, a buildup of column-integrated MSE occurs within low-level easterly anomalies in advance of intraseasonal precipitation, and a discharge of MSE occurs during and after precipitation when westerly anomalies occur. The strongest MSE anomalies peak in the lower troposphere and are, primarily, regulated by specific humidity anomalies.

The leading terms in the column-integrated intraseasonal MSE budget are horizontal advection and surface latent heat flux, where latent heat flux is dominated by the wind-driven component. Horizontal advection causes recharge (discharge) of MSE within regions of anomalous equatorial lower-tropospheric easterly (westerly) anomalies, with the meridional component of the moisture advection dominating the MSE budget near 850 hPa. Latent heat flux anomalies oppose the MSE tendency due to horizontal advection, making the recharge and discharge of column MSE more gradual than if horizontal advection were acting alone. This relationship has consequences for the time scale of intraseasonal variability in the model.

Eddies dominate intraseasonal meridional moisture advection in the model. During periods of low-level intraseasonal easterly anomalies, eddy kinetic energy (EKE) is anomalously low due to a suppression of tropical synoptic-scale disturbances and other variability on time scales shorter than 20 days. Anomalous moistening of the equatorial lower troposphere occurs during intraseasonal easterly periods through suppression of eddy moisture advection between the equator and poleward latitudes. During intraseasonal westerly periods, EKE is enhanced, leading to anomalous drying of the equatorial lower troposphere through meridional advection. Given the importance of meridional moisture advection and wind-induced latent heat flux to the intraseasonal MSE budget, these findings suggest that to simulate realistic intraseasonal variability, climate models must have realistic basic-state distributions of lower-tropospheric zonal wind and specific humidity.

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Eric D. Maloney and Jeffrey Shaman

Abstract

Intraseasonal variability of boreal summer rainfall and winds in tropical West Africa and the east Atlantic is examined using daily Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation and the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis during 1998–2006. Intraseasonal precipitation variability is dominated by two significant spectral peaks at time scales near 15 and 50 days, accompanied by corresponding peaks in eddy kinetic energy (EKE) and eddy enstrophy. Regional precipitation variability on 30–90-day time scales is significantly correlated (+0.6) with a global Madden–Julian oscillation time series based on equatorial zonal winds, supporting the results of A. J. Matthews. The overall amplitude of the 30–90-day West African monsoon precipitation variability during a given summer, however, does not appear to be strongly regulated by interannual variability in MJO amplitude.

Composite analysis and complex empirical orthogonal function analysis shows that 30–90-day precipitation anomalies are generally zonally elongated, grow and decay in place, and have maximum amplitude near the Gulf of Guinea and in the Atlantic ITCZ. Composite 30–90-day enhanced precipitation events are accompanied by a significant suppression of eastern North Atlantic trade winds. Suppressed 30–90-day precipitation events are associated with an enhancement of the Atlantic trade winds. Enhanced (suppressed) EKE occurs just to the north of the east Atlantic ITCZ during positive (negative) 30–90-day precipitation events, with the maximum EKE magnitude lagging precipitation events by about 5 days.

East Atlantic tropical cyclone activity is significantly modulated on intraseasonal time scales. The number of tropical cyclones that occur in the Atlantic’s main development region to the east of 60°W is suppressed about 5–10 days before maxima in a regional intraseasonal precipitation time series, and enhanced about 5–10 days after time series maxima. An analysis of east Atlantic tropical cyclone activity based on an equatorial MJO index produces similar results. Consistent with the results of K. C. Mo, variations in vertical shear may help explain this modulation of tropical cyclone activity.

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Eric D. Maloney and Chidong Zhang

Abstract

This chapter reviews Professor Michio Yanai’s contributions to the discovery and science of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). Professor Yanai’s work on equatorial waves played an inspirational role in the MJO discovery by Roland Madden and Paul Julian. Professor Yanai also made direct and important contributions to MJO research. These research contributions include work on the vertically integrated moist static energy budget, cumulus momentum transport, eddy available potential energy and eddy kinetic energy budgets, and tropical–extratropical interactions. Finally, Professor Yanai left a legacy through his students, who continue to push the bounds of MJO research.

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Bruce T. Anderson and Eric Maloney

Abstract

This paper describes aspects of tropical interannual ocean/atmosphere variability in the NCAR Community Climate System Model Version 2.0 (CCSM2). The CCSM2 tropical Pacific Ocean/atmosphere system exhibits much stronger biennial variability than is observed. However, a canonical correlation analysis technique decomposes the simulated boreal winter tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability into two modes, both of which are related to atmospheric variability during the preceding boreal winter. The first mode of ocean/atmosphere variability is related to the strong biennial oscillation in which La Niña–related sea level pressure (SLP) conditions precede El Niño–like SST conditions the following winter. The second mode of variability indicates that boreal winter tropical Pacific SST anomalies can also be initiated by SLP anomalies over the subtropical central and eastern North Pacific 12 months earlier.

The evolution of both modes is characterized by recharge/discharge within the equatorial subsurface temperature field. For the first mode of variability, this recharge/discharge produces a lag between the basin-average equatorial Pacific isotherm depth anomalies and the isotherm–slope anomalies, equatorial SSTs, and wind stress fields. Significant anomalies are present up to a year before the boreal winter SLP variations and two years prior to the boreal winter ENSO-like events. For the second canonical factor pattern, the recharge/discharge mechanism is induced concurrent with the boreal winter SLP pattern approximately one year prior to the ENSO-like events, when isotherms initially deepen and change their slope across the basin. A rapid deepening of the isotherms in the eastern equatorial Pacific and a warming of the overlying SST anomalies then occurs during the subsequent 12 months.

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Dennis L. Hartmann and Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

A stochastic barotropic model linearized about the 850-mb flow is used to investigate the relationship between wind variations associated with the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and eddy kinetic energy variations in the Tropics. Such a model is successful in predicting the observed location of eddy kinetic energy maxima during the westerly phase of the MJO and the suppression of eddy activity during the easterly phase of the MJO. The concentration of eddy energy during the westerly phase results from the strong east–west and north–south gradients of the large-scale wind fields. The model shows that barotropic wave propagation and wave mean–flow interaction tend to concentrate small-scale Rossby wave energy in regions of convergence, which may be an important mechanism for organizing convection into tropical cyclones. The structure and barotropic energetics of the wave activity are similar to those observed, but the modeled eddies are smaller in scale and do not move westward as do the observed eddies. The eddies that dominate the observed correlations are heavily modified by convection, but barotropic processes can explain the localization of eddy energy by the MJO that is observed.

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Eric D. Maloney and Dennis L. Hartmann

Abstract

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Model, version 3.6 (CCM3) simulation of tropical intraseasonal variability in zonal winds and precipitation can be improved by implementing the microphysics of cloud with relaxed Arakawa–Schubert (McRAS) convection scheme of Sud and Walker. The default CCM3 convection scheme of Zhang and McFarlane produces intraseasonal variability in both zonal winds and precipitation that is much lower than is observed. The convection scheme of Hack produces high tropical intraseasonal zonal wind variability but no coherent convective variability at intraseasonal timescales and low wavenumbers. The McRAS convection scheme produces realistic variability in tropical intraseasonal zonal winds and improved intraseasonal variability in tropical precipitation, although the variability in precipitation is somewhat less than is observed. Intraseasonal variability in CCM3 with the McRAS scheme is highly sensitive to the parameterization of convective precipitation evaporation in unsaturated environmental air and unsaturated downdrafts. Removing these effects greatly reduces intraseasonal variability in the model. Convective evaporation processes in McRAS affect intraseasonal variability mainly through their time-mean effects and not through their variations. Convective rain evaporation and unsaturated downdrafts improve the modeled specific humidity and temperature climates of the Tropics and increase convection on the equator. Intraseasonal variability in CCM3 with McRAS is not improved by increasing the boundary layer relative humidity threshold for initiation of convection, contrary to the results of Wang and Schlesinger. In fact, intraseasonal variability is reduced for higher thresholds. The largest intraseasonal moisture variations during a model Madden–Julian oscillation life cycle occur above the boundary layer, and humidity variations within the boundary layer are small.

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Ghassan J. Alaka and Eric D. Maloney
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