Seo, H., A. C. Subramanian, A. J. Miller, and N. R. Cavanaugh, 2014:

Coupled impacts of the diurnal cycle of sea surface temperature on the Madden-Julian Oscillation.

Journal of Climate, 27, 8422-8443.

Abstract. This study quantifies, from a systematic set of regional ocean-atmosphere coupled model simulations employing various coupling intervals, the effect of sub-daily sea surface temperature (SST) variability on the onset and intensity of Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) convection in the Indian Ocean. The primary effect of diurnal SST variation (dSST) is to raise time-mean SST and latent heat flux (LH) prior to deep convection. Diurnal SST also strengthens the diurnal moistening of the troposphere by collocating the diurnal peak in LH with those of SST. Both effects enhance the convection such that the total precipitation amount scales quasi-linearly with pre-convection dSST and time-mean SST. A column integrated moist static energy (MSE) budget analysis confirms the critical role of diurnal SST variability in the buildup of column MSE and the strength of MJO convection via time-mean stronger mean LH and diurnal moistening. Two complementary atmosphere-only simulations further elucidate the role of SST conditions in predictive skill of MJO. The atmospheric model forced with the persistent initial SST, lacking enhanced pre-convection warming and moistening, produces a weaker and delayed convection than the diurnally coupled run. The atmospheric model with prescribed daily-mean SST from the coupled run, while eliminating the delayed peak, continues to exhibit a weaker convection due to the lack of strong moistening on a diurnal basis. The fact that time-evolving SST with diurnal cycle strongly influences the onset and intensity of MJO convection is consistent with previous studies that identified an improved representation of diurnal SST as a potential source of MJO predictability.

Reprint (pdf)