A numerical case study on the initiation of the Madden-Julian oscillation

Pallav Ray, Chidong Zhang, Jim Dudhia, Shuyi S. Chen

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58 Scopus citations


A mesoscale tropical channel model is used to study the long-standing problem of the initiation of the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO). With initial and lateral boundary conditions provided by a global reanalysis, this model is able to reproduce the initiation and gross features of two observed MJO events up to 2 months after the start of simulations. This leads to a conjecture that these two MJO events are generated by the influences from the lateral boundaries. This conjecture is supported by a series of sensitivity tests. These sensitivity tests demonstrate that the simulated MJO initiation does not critically depend on detailed characteristics of sea surface temperature (varying versus constant in time, mean distribution from boreal spring versus winter), initial conditions (within a 10-day period), the latitudinal location of the lateral boundaries (21°-38°N and S), or even latent heating and moist processes. The only factor found critical to the reproduction of the MJO initiation is time-varying lateral boundary conditions from the reanalysis. When such lateral boundary conditions are replaced by time-independent conditions, the model fails to reproduce the MJO initiation. These results support the idea that extratropical influences can be an efficient mechanism for MJO initiation. Implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-331
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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