Process understanding of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) has increased dramatically over the past decade, but many observed features of the MJO are not well explained by physical mechanisms believed to underlie the phenomenon. New CVP-supported research published in the Journal of Climate examines Moist Static Energy (MSE) and moisture budgets to understand MJO moisture variations.
In their paper, "Objective Diagnostics and the Madden–Julian Oscillation. Part II: Application to Moist Static Energy and Moisture Budgets," authors Wolding and Maloney assessed the geographic variability of anomalous column moisture and MSE budgets for MJO to better interpret mechanisms causing these variations. They find that during the enhanced phase of the MJO, "approximately 85 percent of the moisture removed by net condensation is resupplied by the large-scale vertical moisture advection associated with apparent heating by microphysical processes and subgrid-scale vertical fluxes of dry static energy."
They concluded that a small anomalous moisture source could likely support the relatively large increase in net condensation even absent radiative feedbacks. Additional process studies are needed to continue to understand MJO moisture variability.
To access the full paper, visit: http://dx.doi.org./10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00689.1
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