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Vertical structure and physical processes of the Madden-Julian oscillation: Linking hindcast fidelity to simulated diabatic heating and moistening

Klingaman, N. P., Woolnough, S., Jiang, X., Waliser, D., Xavier, P. K., Petch, J., Caian, M., Hannay, C., Kim, D., Ma, H.-Y., Merryfield, W. J., Miyakawa, T., Pritchard, M., Ridout, J. A., Roehrig, R., Shindo, E., Vitart, F., Wang, H., Cavanaugh, N. R., Mapes, B. E., Shelly, A. and Zhang, G. J. (2015) Vertical structure and physical processes of the Madden-Julian oscillation: Linking hindcast fidelity to simulated diabatic heating and moistening. Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 120 (10). pp. 4690-4717. ISSN 0148-0227

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/2014JD022374

Abstract/Summary

Many theories for the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) focus on diabatic processes, particularly the evolution of vertical heating and moistening. Poor MJO performance in weather and climate models is often blamed on biases in these processes and their interactions with the large-scale circulation. We introduce one of three components of a model-evaluation project, which aims to connect MJO fidelity in models to their representations of several physical processes, focusing on diabatic heating and moistening. This component consists of 20-day hindcasts, initialised daily during two MJO events in winter 2009-10. The 13 models exhibit a range of skill: several have accurate forecasts to 20 days' lead, while others perform similarly to statistical models (8-11 days). Models that maintain the observed MJO amplitude accurately predict propagation, but not vice versa. We find no link between hindcast fidelity and the precipitation-moisture relationship, in contrast to other recent studies. There is also no relationship between models' performance and the evolution of their diabatic-heating profiles with rain rate. A more robust association emerges between models' fidelity and net moistening: the highest-skill models show a clear transition from low-level moistening for light rainfall to mid-level moistening at moderate rainfall and upper-level moistening for heavy rainfall. The mid-level moistening, arising from both dynamics and physics, may be most important. Accurately representing many processes may be necessary, but not sufficient for capturing the MJO, which suggests that models fail to predict the MJO for a broad range of reasons and limits the possibility of finding a panacea.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Walker Institute
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:39951
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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