Tropical Intraseasonal Variability Response to Zonally Asymmetric Forcing in an Idealized Moist GCM

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Journal Article

The tropical intraseasonal variability in an idealized moist general circulation model (GCM) coupled to a slab ocean is investigated. The model has a simple moist convection scheme and realistic radiative transfer, but no parameterization of cloud processes. In a zonally symmetric aquaplanet state, variability is dominated by westward-propagating Rossby waves. Enforcing zonal asymmetry through the application of a prescribed ocean heat flux in the bottom boundary leads to the development of a slow, eastward propagating mode which bears some of the characteristics of the observed Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). When the ocean heat flux is made stronger, high frequency Kelvin waves exist alongside the MJO mode. The strength of the disturbances and the spatial distribution of their precipitation anomalies are sensitive to the strength of intraseasonal sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies.The most resemblence to the MJO is observed when shallow slab ocean depths (1 m) are used, but the mode still exists at deeper slabs. Sensitivity experiments to the parameters of the convection scheme suggest that the simulated MJO mode couples to convection in a way that is distinct from both Kelvin and Rossby waves generated by the model. Analysis of the column moist static energy (CMSE) budget of the MJO mode suggests that column radiative heating plays only a weak role in destabilizing the mode relative to the stabilizing contribution of vertical advection. The CMSE budget analysis highlights the importance of the lifecycle of horizontal advection for the destabilization and propagation of the MJO. Synergies between the generated MJO mode and linear theories of the MJO are discussed as well.

Journal of Climate
Date Published