Large-scale distinctions between MJO and non-MJO convective initiation over the tropical Indian Ocean

Jian Ling, Chidong Zhang, Peter Bechtold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In this study, the authors seek large-scale signals that may distinguish MJO from non-MJO convective events before they start over the Indian Ocean. Three such signals were found. Low-level easterly anomalies extend from the surface tothe midtroposphere and move from the western to eastern Indian Ocean. Surface pressure anomalies exhibit a zonal structure of wavenumber 1 with an equatorial low-pressure surge penetrating eastward from Africa through the Indian Ocean and reaching the Maritime Continent. Negative temperature anomalies in the middle to upper troposphere start over the Indian Ocean and move eastward. All of them emerge 20 days before convective initiation of the MJO and move eastward at speeds close to that of the MJO without any direct connection to MJO convection. They are not obviously related to the extratropics in any discernible way or any preceding MJO events. They are absent in non-MJO convective events. These signals provide useful information for forecasting MJO initiation over the Indian Ocean. They can be signatures of a dry dynamics mode of the MJO, if it exists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2696-2712
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Intraseasonal variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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