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Jiang, X, Waliser DE, Xavier PK, Petch J, Klingaman NP, Woolnough SJ, Guan B, Bellon G, Crueger T, DeMott C, Hannay C, Lin H, Hu WT, Kim D, Lappen CL, Lu MM, Ma HY, Miyakawa T, Ridout JA, Schubert SD, Scinocca J, Seo KH, Shindo E, Song XL, Stan C, Tseng WL, Wang WQ, Wu TW, Wu XQ, Wyser K, Zhang GJ, Zhu HY.  2015.  Vertical structure and physical processes of the Madden-Julian oscillation: Exploring key model physics in climate simulations. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 120:4718-4748.   10.1002/2014jd022375   AbstractWebsite

Aimed at reducing deficiencies in representing the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) in general circulation models (GCMs), a global model evaluation project on vertical structure and physical processes of the MJO was coordinated. In this paper, results from the climate simulation component of this project are reported. It is shown that the MJO remains a great challenge in these latest generation GCMs. The systematic eastward propagation of the MJO is only well simulated in about one fourth of the total participating models. The observed vertical westward tilt with altitude of the MJO is well simulated in good MJO models but not in the poor ones. Damped Kelvin wave responses to the east of convection in the lower troposphere could be responsible for the missing MJO preconditioning process in these poor MJO models. Several process-oriented diagnostics were conducted to discriminate key processes for realistic MJO simulations. While large-scale rainfall partition and low-level mean zonal winds over the Indo-Pacific in a model are not found to be closely associated with its MJO skill, two metrics, including the low-level relative humidity difference between high- and low-rain events and seasonal mean gross moist stability, exhibit statistically significant correlations with the MJO performance. It is further indicated that increased cloud-radiative feedback tends to be associated with reduced amplitude of intraseasonal variability, which is incompatible with the radiative instability theory previously proposed for the MJO. Results in this study confirm that inclusion of air-sea interaction can lead to significant improvement in simulating the MJO.

Klingaman, NP, Woolnough SJ, Jiang XN, Waliser D, Xavier PK, Petch J, Caian M, Hannay C, Kim D, Ma HY, Merryfield WJ, Miyakawa T, Pritchard M, Ridout JA, Roehrig R, Shindo E, Vitart F, Wang HL, Cavanaugh NR, Mapes BE, Shelly A, Zhang GJ.  2015.  Vertical structure and physical processes of the Madden-Julian oscillation: Linking hindcast fidelity to simulated diabatic heating and moistening. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 120:4690-4717.   10.1002/2014jd022374   AbstractWebsite

Many theories for the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) focus on diabatic processes, particularly the evolution of vertical heating and moistening. Poor MJO performance in weather and climate models is often blamed on biases in these processes and their interactions with the large-scale circulation. We introduce one of the three components of a model evaluation project, which aims to connect MJO fidelity in models to their representations of several physical processes, focusing on diabatic heating and moistening. This component consists of 20day hindcasts, initialized daily during two MJO events in winter 2009-2010. The 13 models exhibit a range of skill: several have accurate forecasts to 20days lead, while others perform similarly to statistical models (8-11days). Models that maintain the observed MJO amplitude accurately predict propagation, but not vice versa. We find no link between hindcast fidelity and the precipitation-moisture relationship, in contrast to other recent studies. There is also no relationship between models' performance and the evolution of their diabatic heating profiles with rain rate. A more robust association emerges between models' fidelity and net moistening: the highest-skill models show a clear transition from low-level moistening for light rainfall to midlevel moistening at moderate rainfall and upper level moistening for heavy rainfall. The midlevel moistening, arising from both dynamics and physics, may be most important. Accurately representing many processes may be necessary but not sufficient for capturing the MJO, which suggests that models fail to predict the MJO for a broad range of reasons and limits the possibility of finding a panacea.