Simulations of the Madden-Julian oscillation in four pairs of coupled and uncoupled global models

Chidong Zhang, Min Dong, Silvio Gualdi, Harry H. Hendon, Eric D. Maloney, Andrew Marshall, Kenneth R. Sperber, Wanqiu Wang

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167 Scopus citations


The status of the numerical reproduction of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) by current global models was assessed through diagnoses of four pairs of coupled and uncoupled simulations. Slow eastward propagation of the MJO, especially in low-level zonal wind, is realistic in all these simulations. However, the simulated MJO suffers from several common problems. The MJO signal in precipitation is generally too weak and often eroded by an unrealistic split of an equatorial maximum of precipitation into a double ITCZ structure over the western Pacific. The MJO signal in low-level zonal wind, on the other hand, is sometimes too strong over the eastern Pacific but too weak over the Indian Ocean. The observed phase relationship between precipitation and low-level zonal wind associated with the MJO in the western Pacific and their coherence in general are not reproduced by the models. The seasonal migration in latitude of MJO activity is missing in most simulations. Air-sea coupling generally strengthens the simulated eastward propagating signal, but its effects on the phase relationship and coherence between precipitation and low-level zonal wind, and on their geographic distributions, seasonal cycles, and interannual variability are inconsistent among the simulations. Such inconsistency cautions generalization of results from MJO simulations using a single model. In comparison to observations, biases in the simulated MJO appear to be related to biases in the background state of mean precipitation, low-level zonal wind, and boundary-layer moisture convergence. This study concludes that, while the realistic simulations of the eastward propagation of the MJO are encouraging, reproducing other fundamental features of the MJO by current global models remains an unmet challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-592
Number of pages20
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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