How MJO Teleconnections and ENSO Interference Impacts U.S. Precipitation

Marybeth C. Arcodia, Ben P. Kirtman, Leo S.P. Siqueira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A composite analysis reveals how the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) impacts North American rainfall through perturbations in both the upper-tropospheric flow and regional low-level moisture availability. Upper-level divergence associated with the MJO tropical convection drives a quasi-stationary Rossby wave response to the midlatitudes. This forces a midlatitude upper-level dipolar geopotential height anomaly that is accompanied by a westward retraction of the jet stream and reduced rainfall over the central-eastern North Pacific.Areverse effect is found as the MJO propagates eastward across the Maritime Continent. These large differences in the extratropical upper-level flow, combined with anomalies in the regional supply of water vapor, have a profound impact on southeastern U.S. rainfall. The low-frequency variability, including that associated with ENSO, can modify the seasonal background flow (e.g., El Ninõ and La Ninã basic states) affecting the distribution, strength, and propagation of the intraseasonal oscillation and the extratropical teleconnection patterns. The combined effects of the ENSO and the MJO signals result in both spatial and temporal patterns of interference and modulation of North American rainfall. The results from this study show that during a particular phase of an active MJO, the extratropical response can considerably enhance or mask the interannual ENSO signal in the United States, potentially resulting in anomalies of the opposite sign than that expected during a specific ENSO phase. Analyses of specific MJO events during an El Ninõ or La Ninã episode reveal significant contributions to extreme events via constructive and destructive interference of the MJO and ENSO signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4621-4640
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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