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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

Although the greatest variance in convection associated with the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) occurs over the Indo-Pacific warm pool, the MJO is associated with substantial circulation patterns in the tropics and the extratropics of the Western Hemisphere. Reanalysis data suggest that upper-tropospheric easterly wind anomalies on the equator between 40° and 140°W precede 86% of active convective phases of MJO events greater than one standard deviation in amplitude over the Indian Ocean basin during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Composites of those MJO events that are preceded by westerly wind anomalies and those events preceded by easterly wind anomalies are compared. Results show that those events that are preceded by westerly wind anomalies fail to thrive and do not yield the amplitude in convection or the canonical atmospheric circulation response that is associated with those preceded by easterly wind. The composite of events preceded by easterly winds reveals that these winds amplify coincident with arrival of an anticyclone into the tropics from a wave train that extends across the middle latitudes of the Pacific Ocean and North America. The resultant easterlies then radiate eastward across Africa to the Indian Ocean basin at the phase speed of convectively coupled Kelvin waves, where they are joined by other anticyclones propagating into the tropics, apparently facilitating westward outflow from the amplifying Indian Ocean basin convection.

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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

The view that convectively coupled Kelvin waves and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) are distinct modes is tested by regressing data from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis against satellite outgoing longwave radiation data filtered for particular zonal wavenumbers and frequencies by wavelet analysis. Results confirm that nearly dry Kelvin waves have horizontal structures consistent with their equatorial beta-plane shallow-water-theory counterparts, with westerly winds collocated with the lower-tropospheric ridge, while the MJO and signals along Kelvin wave dispersion curves at low shallow-water-model equivalent depths are characterized by geopotential troughs extending westward from the region of lower-tropospheric easterly wind anomalies through the region of lower-tropospheric westerly winds collocated with deep convection. Results show that as equivalent depth decreases from that of the dry waves (concomitant with intensification of the associated convection), the ridge in the westerlies and the trough in the easterlies shift westward. The analysis therefore demonstrates a continuous field of intermediate structures between the two extremes, suggesting that Kelvin waves and the MJO are not dynamically distinct modes. Instead, signals consistent with Kelvin waves become more consistent with the MJO as the associated convection intensifies. This result depends little on zonal scale. Further analysis also shows how activity in synoptic-scale Kelvin waves characterized by particular phase speeds evolves with the planetary-scale MJO.

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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

The zonal wavenumber–frequency power spectrum of outgoing longwave radiation in the global tropics suggests that power in convectively coupled Kelvin waves and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is organized into two distinct spectral peaks with a minimum in power in between. This work demonstrates that integration of wavelet power in the wavenumber–frequency domain over geographical regions of moderate trade winds yields a similar pronounced spectral gap between these peaks. In contrast, integration over regions of background low-level westerly wind yields a continuum of power with no gap between the MJO and Kelvin bands. Results further show that signals in tropical convection are redder in frequency in these low-level westerly wind zones, confirming that Kelvin waves tend to propagate more slowly eastward over the warm pool than other parts of the world. Results are consistent with the perspective that portions of disturbances labeled as Kelvin waves and the MJO that are proximate to Kelvin wave dispersion curves exist as a continuum over warm pool regions.

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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

The active convective phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation (hereafter active MJO) comprises enhanced moist deep convection on its own temporal and spatial scales as well as increased variance in convection associated with higher-frequency modes. Synoptic-scale cloud superclusters apparently associated with convectively coupled Kelvin waves occur within the active convective envelopes of most MJO events. These convectively coupled Kelvin waves also occur during the suppressed convective phase of the MJO (hereafter suppressed MJO). This observational study presents an analysis of outgoing longwave radiation and reanalysis data to determine how these waves behave differently as they propagate through the active and suppressed MJO. Time indices of the MJO and Kelvin waves are derived for over the equatorial Indian Ocean. Dates of local extrema in these indices are used to composite data to discern how the waves and associated circulations behave on average; then, further composites are made based on subsets of this list of dates that are consistent with the two MJO phases. Results show that the MJO phase modulates the intensity of moist deep convection associated with the Kelvin waves, the evolution of the vertical structure of cloudiness linked to Kelvin waves, and patterns of upper-level outflow from convection coupled to Kelvin waves. Composites reveal that synoptic-scale circulations associated with the release of latent heat in convection coupled to Kelvin waves amplify and are left behind the waves in preferred geographical regions. The MJO modulates the amplitudes of these circulations and the locations where they get left behind the waves. Previous results have suggested a sharp distinction between the phase speeds of the MJO (4–8 m s−1) and of convectively coupled Kelvin waves (specifically 17 m s−1). In contrast, the present work suggests that convectively coupled Kelvin waves have a broad range of characteristic phase speeds, extending from 10 to 17 m s−1, depending on both the region of the world and the phase of the MJO through which they propagate.

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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

Recent works have demonstrated that eastward-propagating features smaller than zonal wavenumber 3 but with spatial structures similar to those of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) frequently develop over the Indo-Pacific warm pool. These signals are characterized by periods shorter than 4 weeks, but since they occur as part of a spectral peak of the MJO, they might be characterized by similar physics. These zonally narrow features occur at any phase of traditionally defined 30–60-day MJO events, but they occur most frequently in its active convective phase. This work presents a linear regression analysis based on filtering in the wavenumber–frequency domain to compare such signals with traditionally defined MJOs and 15–30 m s−1, convectively coupled Kelvin waves. Results show that the trough collocated with the easterly wind anomaly extends westward into the region of lower-tropospheric westerly wind and deep convection in the zonally narrow slow signals and MJOs. The fast Kelvin waves have a ridge anomaly collocated with the westerly wind anomaly. The zonally narrow slow signals and MJOs include a warm anomaly in the boundary layer west of the deep convection that is absent in fast Kelvin waves. Results suggest that MJO dynamics are not confined to the 30–60-day band and that time scales as short as 2 weeks could be considered in wavenumber–frequency diagnostics for the MJO.

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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis is frequently applied to derive patterns and indexes used to identify and track weather and climate modes as expressed in state variables or proxies of convection. Individual EOFs or pairs of EOFs are often taken to be a complete description of the phenomenon they are intended to index. At the same time, in the absence of projection of the phenomenon onto multiple EOFs yielding multiple similar eigenvalues, each EOF is often assumed to represent a physically independent phenomenon. This project analyzed the leading EOFs of the earth’s skin temperature on the equator and outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies filtered for atmospheric equatorial Kelvin waves. Results show that the leading two EOFs of the skin temperature data—including east Pacific El Niño and El Niño Modoki—frequently evolve as a quadrature pair during El Niño events, even though the first EOF explains roughly 6 times as much variance as the second. They together diagnose the longitude of the SST anomaly maximum, and their linear combination frequently shows eastward or westward propagation. Analysis of the filtered OLR anomalies shows that the first six EOFs each represent Kelvin wave signals, with the first, second, and third pairs representing Kelvin waves characterized by zonal wavenumbers 2, 3, and 4, respectively. This result demonstrates that if a phenomenon occurs across a range of spatial scales, it is described by multiple EOFs at different scales. A similar analysis demonstrates that the Madden–Julian oscillation probably exhibits spread across a range of spatial scales that would also require multiple EOFs for full characterization.

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Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

A robust linear regression algorithm is applied to estimate 95% confidence intervals on the background wind associated with Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) upper-tropospheric atmospheric circulation signals characterized by different phase speeds. Data reconstructed from the ERA5 to represent advection by the upper-tropospheric background flow and MJO-associated zonal wind anomalies, together with satellite outgoing longwave radiation anomalies, all in the equatorial plane, are regressed against advection data filtered for zonal wavenumber 2 and phase speeds of 3, 4, 5, and 7 m s−1. The regressed advection by the background flow is then divided by the negative of the zonal gradient of regressed zonal wind across the central Indian Ocean base longitude at 80°E to estimate the associated background wind that leads to the given advection. The median estimates of background wind associated with these phase speeds are 13.4, 11.2, 10.5, and 10.3 m s−1 easterly. The differences between estimated values at neighboring speeds suggests that advection acts most strongly in slow MJO events, indicating that the slowest events happen to be slow because they experience stronger easterly advection by the upper-tropospheric background wind.

Significance Statement

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is the dominant subseasonal rainfall signal of the tropical atmosphere. This project shows that the background wind of the tropical atmosphere most especially slows down the slowest MJO events. Understanding what controls its speed might help scientists better predict events.

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William M. Frank
and
Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

This paper analyzes relationships between tropical wave activity and tropical cyclogenesis in all of the earth’s major tropical cyclone basins. Twenty-nine years of outgoing longwave radiation data and global reanalysis winds are filtered and analyzed to determine statistical relationships between wave activity in each basin and the corresponding cyclogenesis. Composite analyses relative to the storm genesis locations show the structures of the waves and their preferred phase relationships with genesis. Five wave types are examined in this study, including mixed Rossby–gravity waves, tropical-depression-type or easterly waves, equatorial Rossby waves, Kelvin waves, and the Madden–Julian oscillation. The latter is not one of the classical tropical wave types, but is a wavelike phenomenon known to have a strong impact on tropical cyclogenesis. Tropical cyclone formation is strongly related to enhanced activity in all of the wave filter bands except for the Kelvin band. In each basin the structure of each composite wave and the phase relationship between the wave and cyclogenesis are similar, suggesting consistent forcing mechanisms. The waves appear to enhance the local circulations by increasing the forced upward vertical motion, increasing the low-level vorticity at the genesis location, and by modulating the vertical shear. Convective anomalies of waves associated with genesis are detectable in the analyses as long as 1 month prior to genesis. This opens up the possibility of developing statistically based genesis forecasts.

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Lawrence C. Gloeckler
and
Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

Time indices of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) are often used to generate empirical forecasts of the global atmospheric circulation. Moist deep convection associated with the MJO initiates eastward-propagating Rossby waves that disperse into the midlatitudes. The background circulation then guides extratropical waves back into the tropics of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Previous works have shown that equatorial Rossby (ER) waves occur following intrusion of extratropical Rossby waves into the tropics. Westward-propagating ER waves and the MJO modulate the total convection. This convection modulates the zonal wind, which influences the location and existence of westerly wind ducts. These wind ducts, in turn, guide extratropical waves into the tropics. This paper demonstrates through a simple composite analysis that a simultaneous assessment of MJO and ER waves yields more information about the extratropical circulation during boreal winter than can be obtained based on either type of disturbance alone, or from a sum of the signals associated with the MJO and ER waves composited separately. This analysis, together with previous results, suggests a feedback loop between the MJO, these waves, and the extratropical circulation. Thus, assessment of the ER wave state during a particular phase of the MJO might yield better empirical prediction of the global atmospheric circulation that follows.

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Daniel B. Thompson
and
Paul E. Roundy

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) has been linked to weather variability in the midlatitudes via its associated overturning circulations and Rossby wave trains that redistribute the thermal and mass fields at higher latitudes. This work examines the relationship between the MJO and violent tornado outbreaks in the United States. A census of events shows that violent tornado outbreaks during March–April–May (MAM) are more than twice as frequent during phase 2 of the Real-time Multivariate MJO (RMM) index as during other phases or when the MJO was deemed inactive. Composite analyses show the global circulation patterns simultaneously associated with the MJO and the tornado outbreaks and also indicate the most favored low-frequency circulation pattern that precedes tornado outbreaks in RMM phase 2. An index of 300-hPa geopotential height data is generated by projecting 60-day mean values onto the composite low-frequency pattern. When that index exceeds one standard deviation and the MJO is in RMM phase 2 with an amplitude exceeding one standard deviation during MAM, violent tornado outbreaks occur 50% of the time, relative to the average frequency of less than 4%. Results demonstrate that the anomalous large-scale midlatitude circulation modulated by the MJO and lower-frequency signals can make conditions more or less favorable for tornado outbreaks.

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