BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Madden–Julian Oscillation Heating
Published: March 21, 2014
Posted: August 20, 2014

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a complex multiscale coupling between the large-scale atmospheric circulation and convection in the tropics that results in pulses of clouds and precipitation moving eastward at about 5 m/s. The MJO is the primary source of tropical variability on monthly time scales and also impacts weather outside the tropics, including North American winter precipitation. Global climate models (GCMs) have difficulty in accurately simulating the MJO, possibly because of GCM failure to adequately represent atmospheric heating associated with changes in the cloud populations. U.S. Department of Energy scientists used the Community Atmosphere Model version 4 (CAM4) to examine the relative importance of heating at different altitudes to the MJO. The results show that the MJO simulation is most sensitive to the existence of heating lower in the atmosphere ahead of the center of anomalous rainfall, while excess heating higher in the atmosphere degrades the MJO signal. The study also suggests that the standard CAM4 has difficulty simulating the MJO because it produces sufficient upper-level heating but not enough lower-level heating. Given that lower atmospheric heating was most important to producing an MJO signal, these results indicate that accurate shallow convective parameterizations may be more important than deep convective ones in simulating MJO evolution in GCMs.

Reference: Lappen, C., and C. Schumacher. 2014. "The Role of Tilted Heating in the Evolution of the MJO," Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres 119(6), 2966–89. DOI:10.1002/2013JD020638. (Reference link)

Contact: Sally McFarlane, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0943, Ashley Williamson, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3120
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Jan 11, 2022
No Honor Among Copper Thieves
Findings provide a novel means to manipulate methanotrophs for a variety of environmental and in [more...]

Dec 06, 2021
New Genome Editing Tools Can Edit Within Microbial Communities
Two new technologies allow scientists to edit specific species and genes within complex laborato [more...]

Oct 27, 2021
Fungal Recyclers: Fungi Reuse Fire-Altered Organic Matter
Degrading pyrogenic (fire-affected) organic matter is an important ecosystem function of fungi i [more...]

Oct 19, 2021
Microbes Offer a Glimpse into the Future of Climate Change
Scientists identify key features in microbes that predict how warming affects carbon dioxide emi [more...]

Aug 25, 2021
Assessing the Production Cost and Carbon Footprint of a Promising Aviation Biofuel
Biomass-derived DMCO has the potential to serve as a low-carbon, high-performance jet fuel blend [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)