Diurnally modulated cumulus moistening in the preonset stage of the Madden-Julian oscillation during DYNAMO

James H. Ruppert, Richard H. Johnson

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Atmospheric soundings, radar, and air-sea flux measurements collected during Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) are employed to study MJO convective onset (i.e., the transition from shallow to deep convection) in the tropical Indian Ocean. The findings indicate that moistening of the low-midtroposphere during the preonset stage of the MJO is achieved by simultaneous changes in the convective cloud population and large-scale circulation. Namely, cumuliform clouds deepen and grow in areal coverage as the drying by large-scale subsidence and horizontal (westerly) advection wane. The reduction of large-scale subsidence is tied to the reduction of column radiative cooling during the preonset stage, which ultimately links back to the evolving cloud population. While net column moistening in the preonset stage is tied to large-scale circulation changes, a new finding of this study is the high degree to which the locally driven diurnal cycle invigorates convective clouds and cumulus moistening each day. This diurnal cycle is manifest in a daytime growth of cumulus clouds (in both depth and areal coverage) in response to oceanic diurnal warm layers, which drive a daytime increase of the air-sea fluxes of heat and moisture. This diurnally modulated convective cloud field exhibits prominent mesoscale organization in the form of open cells and horizontal convective rolls. It is hypothesized that the diurnal cycle and mesoscale cloud organization characteristic of the preonset stage of the MJO represent two manners in which local processes promote more vigorous daily-mean column moistening than would otherwise occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1622-1647
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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