Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)
The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is the major fluctuation in tropical weather on weekly to monthly timescales. The MJO can be characterized as an eastward moving 'pulse' of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days.
MJO phase diagram
*Note: There is missing satellite observations from 16/3/1978 to 31/12/1978.
The MJO phase diagram illustrates the progression of the MJO through different phases, which generally coincide with locations along the equator around the globe. RMM1 and RMM2 are mathematical methods that combine cloud amount and winds at upper and lower levels of the atmosphere to provide a measure of the strength and location of the MJO. When the index is within the centre circle the MJO is considered weak, meaning it is difficult to discern using the RMM methods. Outside of this circle the index is stronger and will usually move in an anti-clockwise direction as the MJO moves from west to east. For convenience, we define 8 different MJO phases in this diagram.
Average weekly rainfall probabilities
These maps show average weekly rainfall probabilities and expected 850 hPa (approximately 1.5 km above sea level) wind anomalies for each of the 8 MJO phases. Green and blue shading indicates higher than normal rainfall would be expected, while red and orange shading indicates lower than normal rainfall would be expected. The direction and length of the arrows indicate the direction and strength of the wind anomaly. The darker the arrow, the more reliable the information is. The relationship of the MJO with Australian rainfall and winds changes with the season (which can be selected at the top).
Average outgoing longwave radiation (OLR)
Outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) is often used as a way to identify tall, thick, convective rain clouds. These maps show the difference from expected cloudiness based on the position of the MJO. The violet and blue shading indicates higher than normal, active or enhanced tropical weather, while orange shading indicates lower than normal cloud or suppressed conditions. The direction and length of the arrows indicate the direction and strength of the wind anomaly. The darker the arrow, the more reliable the information is. The relationship of the MJO with tropical weather patterns changes with the season (which can be selected above the maps).
Global maps of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR)
Global maps of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) highlight regions experiencing more or less cloudiness. The top panel is the total OLR in Watts per square metre (W/m²) and the bottom panel is the anomaly (current minus the 1979-1998 climate average), in W/m². In the bottom panel, negative values (blue shading) represent above normal cloudiness while positive values (brown shading) represent below normal cloudiness.
The graphs linked to this map show the OLRs for the different regions within the Darwin RSMC area. The horizontal dashed line represents what is normal for that time of year (based on the 1979 to 1998 period). The coloured curve is the 3-day moving average OLR in W/m². Below normal OLR indicates cloudier than normal conditions in this particular area, and is shown in blue shading. Above normal OLR indicates less cloudy conditions and is shown in yellow shading.
Postscript: Coral Sea Dateline Fiji Guam & Marianas Indochina Malyasia & Indonesia Micronesia Nauru & Tuvalu New Guinea Northern Australia Philippines Solomon Island Southern India & Sri Lanka Vanuatu
Daily averaged OLR anomalies
Westerly wind anomalies
Time-longitude plots of daily averaged OLR anomalies (left) and 850 hPa (approximately 1.5 km above sea level) westerly wind anomalies (right) are useful for indicating the movement of the MJO.
How to read the Time-Longitude plots
The vertical axis represents time with the most distant past on the top and becoming more recent as you move down the chart. The Horizontal axis represents longitude.
Eastward movement of a strong MJO event would be seen as a diagonal line of violet (downward from left to right) in the OLR diagram, and a corresponding diagonal line of purple in the wind diagram. These diagonal lines would most likely fall between 60°E and 150°E and they would be repeated nearly every 1 to 2 months.
Weekly Tropical Climate Note
Issued on Tuesday 11 March 2014
Madden-Julian Oscillation in western hemisphere
The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) has progressed into the western hemisphere. The past week has seen active tropical weather over South America while convection remained generally suppressed over the tropical Indian Ocean. When the MJO is over the western hemisphere at this time of year it usually contributes to a break period in the North Australian Monsoon, with higher than normal pressure often observed over the equatorial Indian Ocean and the Maritime Continent including northern Australia.
Despite the MJO contributing to conditions that are unfavourable for large-scale tropical convection over northern Australia, a weak monsoon trough has remained to the north of Australia, over the Coral Sea and the Southwest Pacific during the week. Three tropical cyclones have also developed across these regions: tropical cyclone Hadi currently in the Coral Sea; tropical cyclone Gillian that has now weakened and is situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria; and, tropical cyclone Lusi near Vanuatu. A westward moving, large-scale tropical wave (an Equatorial Rossby wave) has also been active in Australian and far west south Pacific longitudes and is likely to have enhanced tropical cyclone development in these regions.
The MJO is forecast to continue in an eastward progression with some forecast models weakening the MJO by early next week while others maintain a moderate strength for at least the next two weeks. With exception to the hazardous weather in the vicinity of the tropical lows around the far north of Australia and the South Pacific, the rest of the Asia-Pacific tropics are likely to see suppressed convective conditions for the rest of this week and possibly up to two weeks, depending on the strength of the MJO influence.
See the Bureau's MJO Monitoring for more information on location and tracking of the MJO.
ENSO state: neutral, warming expected
The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral. The 30-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) value to 9 March is -6.3. The latest NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomaly is -0.3 °C.
Climate models forecast Pacific Ocean temperatures to warm in the coming months, approaching El Niño thresholds around the middle of the year. El Niño is often, but not always, associated with below normal rainfall during the second half of the year across large parts of southern and inland eastern Australia.
See the Bureau's ENSO Wrap-Up which includes a compilation of computer model predictions of ENSO indices.
Next update expected by 18 March 2014| Product Code IDCKGEWOOO
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Interpolated OLR data provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
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