MJO moisture budget during DYNAMO in a cloud-resolving model

Matthew A. Janiga, Chidong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Contributions by different physical processes and cloud types to the sum of the large-scale vertical moisture advection and apparent moisture sink observed by the DYNAMO field campaign northern sounding array during the passage of a Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) event are estimated using a cloud-resolving model. The sum of these two moisture budget terms is referred to as the column-confined moisture tendency MC. Assuming diabatic balance, the contribution of different physical processes and cloud types to the large-scale vertical velocity and MC can be estimated using simulated diabatic tendencies and the domain-averaged static stability and vertical moisture gradient. Low-level moistening preceding MJO passage is captured by MC and dominated by the effects of shallow clouds. Because of the large vertical moisture gradient at this level, condensational heating in these clouds generates ascent and vertical moisture advection overwhelming the removal of water vapor by condensation. Shallow convective eddy transport also contributes to low-level moistening during this period. Eddy transport by congestus and deep convective clouds contributes to subsequent mid- and upper-level moistening, respectively, as well as low-level drying. Because the upper-level vertical moisture gradient is small, ice deposition within stratiform clouds has a net drying effect. The weak eddy transport in stratiform clouds is unable to compensate for this drying. Nonprecipitating clouds mainly modulate MC through their effects on radiation. During the enhanced phase, reduced longwave cooling results in less subsidence and drying; the opposite occurs during the suppressed phase. Large-scale horizontal advection, which is not included in MC, is responsible for much of the drying during the dissipating phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2257-2278
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Circulation/dynamics
  • Cloud radiative effects
  • Cloud resolving models
  • Convective clouds
  • Geographic location/entity
  • Indian ocean
  • Madden-julian oscillation
  • Models and modeling
  • Moisture/moisture budget
  • Physical meteorology and climatology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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