Systematic decomposition of the MJO and its Northern Hemispheric extratropical response into Rossby and inertio-gravity components

Christian L.E. Franzke, Damjan Jelic, Sukyoung Lee, Steven B. Feldstein

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11 Scopus citations


The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is the dominant form of intraseasonal variability in the Tropics. The MJO is a complex convectively coupled phenomenon, which is still poorly represented in the current generation of climate models, and our understanding of its essential dynamics and its influence on the midlatitude circulation is still incomplete. Here, we use a normal-mode decomposition method to decompose the MJO systematically into Kelvin, inertio-gravity (IG), and Rossby-wave components in the ERA-Interim reanalysis data for the period 1980–2015 to provide a climatology of the eight MJO phases for the Kelvin, IG, and Rossby-wave components. Our analysis shows that the Rossby modes provide a larger contribution to the magnitude of the MJO in terms of geopotential height and winds than the Kelvin wave and IG modes. Moreover, the kinetic energy associated with the Rossby modes of the MJO accounts for about 93% of the kinetic energy. Our decomposition also shows that the Kelvin wave is the dominant mode in the unbalanced wave part, which is flanked by Rossby waves on both sides of the Equator, consistent with previous studies. The extratropical response to the MJO also consists of both IG and Rossby-wave components in the Northern Hemisphere (NH). The midlatitude MJO response is also linked to well-known teleconnection patterns like the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Pacific–North American pattern. The transient NH atmospheric response is fast, of the order of 5–7 days. While the extratropical response is dominated by Rossby waves, IG waves also show a prominent response in the NH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1164
Number of pages18
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number720
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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