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The Madden-Julian Oscillation and the diurnal cycle over the Maritime Continent: scale interactions and modelling

Peatman, S. C. (2014) The Madden-Julian Oscillation and the diurnal cycle over the Maritime Continent: scale interactions and modelling. PhD thesis, University of East Anglia

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The Maritime Continent archipelago, situated on the equator at 95-165E, has the strongest land-based precipitation on Earth. The latent heat release associated with the rainfall affects the atmospheric circulation throughout the tropics and into the extra-tropics. The greatest source of variability in precipitation is the diurnal cycle. The archipelago is within the convective region of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), which provides the greatest variability on intra-seasonal time scales: large-scale (∼10^7 km^2) active and suppressed convective envelopes propagate slowly (∼5 m s^-1) eastwards between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. High-resolution satellite data show that a strong diurnal cycle is triggered to the east of the advancing MJO envelope, leading the active MJO by one-eighth of an MJO cycle (∼6 days). Where the diurnal cycle is strong its modulation accounts for 81% of the variability in MJO precipitation. Over land this determines the structure of the diagnosed MJO. This is consistent with the equatorial wave dynamics in existing theories of MJO propagation. The MJO also affects the speed of gravity waves propagating offshore from the Maritime Continent islands. This is largely consistent with changes in static stability during the MJO cycle. The MJO and its interaction with the diurnal cycle are investigated in HiGEM, a high-resolution coupled model. Unlike many models, HiGEM represents the MJO well with eastward-propagating variability on intra-seasonal time scales at the correct zonal wavenumber, although the inter-tropical convergence zone's precipitation peaks strongly at the wrong time, interrupting the MJO's spatial structure. However, the modelled diurnal cycle is too weak and its phase is too early over land. The modulation of the diurnal amplitude by the MJO is also too weak and accounts for only 51% of the variability in MJO precipitation. Implications for forecasting and possible causes of the model errors are discussed, and further modelling studies are proposed.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Matthews, A. J. and Stevens, D. P.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Mathematics
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:37114
Date on Title Page:May 2014

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