Stratiform precipitation, vertical heating profiles, and the Madden-Julian oscillation

Jialin Lin, Brian Mapes, Minghua Zhang, Matthew Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


The observed profile of heating through the troposphere in the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) is found to be very top heavy: more so than seasonal-mean heating and systematically more so than all of the seven models for which intraseasonal heating anomaly profiles have been published. Consistently, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar shows that stratiform precipitation (known to heat the upper troposphere and cool the lower troposphere) contributes more to intraseasonal rainfall variations than it does to seasonal-mean rainfall. Stratiform rainfall anomalies lag convective rainfall anomalies by a few days. Reasons for this lag apparently include increased wind shear and middle-upper tropospheric humidity, which also lag convective (and total) rainfall by a few days. A distinct rearward tilt is seen in anomalous heating time-height sections, in both the strong December 1992 MJO event observed by the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) and a composite MJO constructed from multiyear datasets. Interpretation is aided by a formal partitioning of the COARE heating section into convective, stratiform, and radiative components. The tilted structure after the maximum surface rainfall appears to be largely contributed by latent and radiative heating in enhanced stratiform anvils. However, the tilt of anomalous heating ahead of maximum rainfall is seen within the convective component, suggesting a change from shallower to deeper convective heating as the wet phase of the MJO approached the longitude of the observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-309
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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