Influence of Madden Julian Oscillation on Climate

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Discussion: Within the energy and agriculture markets there is great interest in the Madden Julian oscillation (MJO). Why? The MJO is an intra-seasonal mode of climate variability enhancing tropical cyclone risk and modifying monsoon regimes in the tropics and when strong enough affects the mid-latitude storm track increasing the risk of weather extremes.

Fig. 1: The MJO is strongest where tropical waters are warmest which is clearly over and just west of the Dateline.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology/Australia the MJO has shifted across the tropical West Pacific this week and appears vividly in today’s Pacific satellite view with heavy convection both sides of the equator. The MJO is a little weaker than the past 5-10 days when MJO spawned tropical cyclones in the far West Pacific. NOAA/CPC MJO observations/forecasts indicate MJO has pulsed across the tropical East Pacific but note how weak the associated convection.

MJO convection is strongest where tropical waters are warmest. The robust 84-86F SST near and just west of the Dateline is fueling the most robust MJO signature (Fig. 1). By comparison the tropical East Pacific is much cooler where feeble weak El Nino warmth is present. Note the lack of convection in the East Pacific tropics which should be present if El Nino was robust.