Changes in Madden-Julian Oscillation precipitation and wind variance under global warming
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Changes in Madden-Julian Oscillation precipitation and wind variance under global warming

  • Published Date:

    2018

  • Source:
    Geophysical Research Letters 45(14): 7148-7155, 2018
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  • Description:
    The Madden‐Julian oscillation (MJO) is the leading mode of tropical intraseasonal variability, having profound impacts on many weather and climate phenomena across the tropics and extratropics. Previous studies using a limited number of models have suggested complex changes in MJO activity in a warmer climate. While most studies have argued that MJO precipitation amplitude will increase in a future warmer climate, others note that this is not necessarily the case for MJO wind variability. This distinction is important since MJO wind fluctuations are responsible for producing remote impacts on extreme weather through teleconnections. In this study, we examine projected changes of MJO precipitation and wind variance at the end of the 21st century in Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 using the multimodel Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 data set. Under global warming, most models show an increase in MJO band precipitation variance, while wind variability decreases. The discrepancy between MJO precipitation and wind variance changes under global warming is shown to be due to increases in tropical static stability in a warmer climate. The multimodel mean shows a 20% increase in both the 500‐hPa vertical tropical dry static energy gradient and the ratio of intraseasonal precipitation to 500 hPa omega fluctuations, consistent with scaling by weak temperature gradient theory. These results imply that tropical static stability increases may weaken the MJO's ability to influence extreme events in future warmer climate by weakening wind teleconnections, even though MJO precipitation amplitude may increase.
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