Modulation of Caribbean Precipitation by the Madden-Julian Oscillation Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Based on 12 years of daily satellite precipitation data and reanalysis winds, intraseasonal (3090 days) variability in Caribbean precipitation is linked to phases of the MaddenJulian oscillation (MJO). Intraseasonal variability is largest during SeptemberNovember (SON), but some modulation of precipitation by the MJO appears throughout all seasons. Precipitation anomalies up to 50% above (below) the annual mean are observed in phases 1 and 2 (5 and 6) of the MJO. The changes in Caribbean precipitation associated with the MJO are shown to be related to changes in the low-level (925 hPa) winds. When precipitation anomalies are above (below) average in phases 1 and 2 (5 and 6), wind anomalies act to decrease (increase) the strength of the prevailing easterly trade winds. The changes in the low-level winds are most apparent in the region of the Caribbean low-level jet (CLLJ), and divergence anomalies associated with the entrance and exit regions of the CLLJ precede the precipitation anomalies. The CLLJ itself is also shown to be subject to intraseasonal variability, and its magnitude varies with the phase of the MJO. Again, intraseasonal variability in the CLLJ associated with the MJO is observed in all seasons and shows a significant coherence with intraseasonal variability in the precipitation. Extreme rainfall events over islands in the Caribbean show a strong relationship with the MJO phase, with extreme events being most common in phases 1 and 2 of an MJO event. This relationship between the MJO and extreme events has important implications for the predictability of precipitation extremes in the Caribbean.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Martin, E. R., & Schumacher, C.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Martin, Elinor R||Schumacher, Courtney

publication date

  • February 2011