Understanding Madden­-Julian Oscillation Initiation and Propagation

  • 7 October 2015
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The DYNAMO (Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation) field campaign was designed to collect observations in the Indian Ocean needed to improve the representation of processes key to understanding and modeling the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). Following the field phase, a recent competition invited the academic community to assemble diverse Climate Process Teams consisting of observationalists, theoreticians, and modelers. These teams were tasked with integrating the new observations and expanded understanding gained during the field phase into NOAA’s operational weather forecasting and global climate models in order to improve initiation and propagation of the MJO in these models.


NOAA’s Climate Variability and Predictability (CVP) program competitively funded 2 new three-year projects totaling $2.4 million in grants and $598,000 in other awards to support 20 researchers, postdocs, and students at 10 institutions. Altogether, these projects represent a collaboration between  academia and NOAA to improve the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s state-of-the-art global climate model as well as the operation model CFS (Coupled Forecast System), which is used at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction within NOAA’s National Weather Service. The research conducted by these teams will help reduce model biases and improve environmental forecasts along the weather-climate continuum.

Skillful weather forecasts extend out 1-2 weeks while climate projections encompass seasons, decades, and centuries. Current models do not adequately address the important sub-seasonal forecasting gap in between these timescales, but predictions at this scale are important for planning in a variety of fields, such as farming, water resource management, and futures trading. Improving our ability to forecast environmental conditions in the sub-seasonal time frame requires an improved understanding of components or phenomena of the Earth system that operate on that scale.

The most prominent example of such a phenomenon at this scale is the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO),which cycles on roughly 30-90 day intervals. Starting in the Indian Ocean and propagating slowly eastward into the Pacific, the MJO is a convective system, characterized by clouds and rainfall, that influences weather and other phenomena such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Improving understanding of how this source of climate variability is initiated and how it moves around the globe can improve forecasts on the subseasonal timescale. The Climate Process Teams will not only use NOAA-supported field campaign data to better understand the MJO, but also will incorporate this knowledge into our models to operationalize this understanding.Projects

The two new projects to be funded* by this CVP competition in 2015 are:

“Towards an Improved Understanding of the Initiation and Propagation of the Madden-Julian Oscillation.” Xianan Jiang (UCLA Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering); Ming Zhao (GFDL/NOAA) [abstract]

“Improvement of MJO simulation in NCEP Coupled Forecast System: Upper ocean and air-sea coupled processes.” Toshiaki Shinoda (Texas A&M); Alexander Soloviev (Nova Southeastern University); Wanqiu Wang (NOAA/NCEP); Ren-Chieh Lien (University of Washington); Joshua Fu (University of Hawaii); Hyodae Seo (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) [abstract]

CVP is a program in the Climate Program Office, within NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, that supports research to advance understanding of the climate system through observation, modeling, analysis, and field studies. To learn more about CVP’s funding opportunities and supported projects, visit: http://cpo.noaa.gov/cvp.  

For a full list of CPO’s grants and awards for 2015, visit: http://cpo.noaa.gov/AboutCPO/AllNews/TabId/315/artmid/668/articleid/363879/CPO-Announces-FY15-Awards.aspx

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