Modulation of the Madden-Julian Oscillation by ENSO: Inferences from observations and GCM simulations

Chi Yung Tam, Ngar Cheung Lau

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The impact of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is studied, based on reanalysis data and output from an ensemble general circulation model (GCM) experiment. Observed monthly sea surface temperature variations over the period of 1950-99 are imposed in the deep tropical eastern/central Pacific in the course of the SST experiment. Both GCM, and reanalysis data, indicate that intraseasonal activity of the low-level zonal wind is enhanced (reduced) over the central (western) Pacific during El Niño events. The propagation and growth/decay characterisitcis of the MJO in different phases of ENSO is also examined, based on a lag correlation technique. During warm events there is an eastward shift in the locations of strong growth and decay, and the propagation of the MJO becomes slower in the warm ENSO phase. These changes are reversed during La Niña epsiodes. Using output from the GCM experiment, the effects of ENSO on the circulation and convection during the MJO lifecycle are studied in detail. Further eastward penetration of MJO-related convection is simulated during warm events over the central Pacific. An instability index related to the vertical gradient of the moist static energy is found to be useful for depicting the onset of MJO convection along the equator. During warm events, the stronger magnitudes of this index over the central Pacific are conducive to more eastward penetration of convective anomalies in the region. These changes are mainly due to the intensified moisture accumulation at low levels. Analysis of the moisture budget suggests that the stronger moisture accumulation can be related to the increased low-level humidity over the central Pacific during warm events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-743
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Meteorological Society of Japan
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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