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Assessing the Relationship between MJO and Equatorial Pacific WWBs in Observations and CMIP5 Models

2018-06-06

Feng, J. and T. Lian. Assessing the Relationship between MJO and Equatorial Pacific WWBs in Observations and CMIP5 Models. Journal of Climate, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17- 0526.1.


This study evaluates the relationship between the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the occurrence of equatorial Pacific Westerly Wind Bursts (WWBs). During the convective MJO phase, anomalous surface westerlies prevail in and west of the convective MJO center, providing favorable conditions for WWBs. Compared with the probability of WWBs expected under a null hypothesis that WWBs occur randomly, the convective MJO phase almost doubles the probability of a WWB occurring. Nevertheless, only 34.46% of WWBs co-occur with the convective MJO, which is much less than that reported in previous studies. We show that when the MJO and WWBs are defined using the same field with overlapping frequencies, the percentage of WWBs co-occurred with the convective MJO shows a significant increase. However, the higher percentage is simply caused by the fact that the strong WWBs during a convective MJO are more likely to be identified than those during the suppressed and neutral MJO phases. 45.80% of WWBs are found occurred in the full MJO phase (both the convective and suppressed MJO phases), which is slightly higher than that expected based on randomness. Although the full MJO has statistically significant impact on WWBs likelihood, the influence from the full MJO on the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomaly is much weaker as compared to that from the WWBs. The relationships between the MJO and WWBs simulated in CMIP5 models are also assessed, and the percentage of WWBs co-occurred with MJO simulated in models is in general less than that in observations.

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