Large-scale precipitation tracking and the MJO over the Maritime Continent and Indo-Pacific warm pool

Brandon W. Kerns, Shuyi S. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A large-scale precipitation tracking (LPT) method is developed to track convection and precipitation associated with the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) using the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission 3B42 rainfall data from October to March 1998-2015. LPT uses spatially smoothed 3 day rainfall accumulation to identify and track precipitation features in time with a minimum size of 300,000 km2 and time continuity at least 10 days. While not all LPT systems (LPTs) are attributable to the MJO, among the 199 LPTs, there were 42 with a mean eastward propagation of at least 2ms-1, which are considered to be MJO convective initiation events. These LPTs capture the diversity of the MJO convection, which is not well depicted by the Real-time Multivariate MJO (RMM) index or the outgoing longwave radiation MJO index. During the 17 years, there were 17 instances out of 45 with a MJO signature in the RMM without eastward propagating LPTs. Among the 42 eastward propagating LPTs, 24 propagated across the Maritime Continent (MC), which confirms the MC barrier effect. Among the cases that crossed the MC from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific (MC crossing), 18 (75%) had a significant MJO signature in the RMM index. In contrast, only six (33%) of the non-MC-crossing cases occurred with a RMM MJO signal. There is a significant seasonal and interannual variability with MC-crossing LPTs occurring in December more commonly than other months. More MC-crossing events were observed during La Niña than El Niño, which is consistent with the observations of stronger and more frequent MJO events identified by RMM during La Niña years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8755-8776
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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