DePasquale, Amanda Michele (2013-07). Radar Observations of MJO and Kelvin Wave Interactions During DYNAMO/AMIE/CINDY2011. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), a tropical phenomenon that exists on the time scale of 30-90 days, commonly initiates over the Indian Ocean and slowly propagates into the western Pacific as a series of convective events, which have time scales on the order of hours or days. These events and the overall MJO convective envelope may interact with convectively coupled waves such as Kelvin waves that propagate more rapidly eastward with time scales of 3-5 days. Radar and sounding data collected during the DYNAMO/AMIE/CINDY2011 field campaign from October 2011 to February 2012 in the central Indian Ocean are used to study the interaction between Kelvin waves and the MJO in terms of atmospheric and cloud properties. The focus is on characterizing the precipitation characteristics, convective cloud spectrum, and atmospheric profiles of Kelvin waves during the active and suppressed phases of the MJO to gain insight on MJO initiation. Characteristics of waves identified using different satellite thresholds and filtering methods are compared. Composites of the radar and sounding observations are calculated for a total of ten Kelvin waves and three MJO events that occurred during the field campaign. Analyzed radar products include convective-stratiform classification of rain rate, rain area, and echo-top heights, as well as cloud boundaries. Sounding data includes profiles of wind speed and direction and relative humidity. Kelvin waves that occur during the suppressed MJO are convectively weaker than Kelvin waves during the active MJO, but display previously documented structure of low-level convergence and a moist atmosphere prior to the wave passage. During the active MJO, Kelvin waves have stronger convective and stratiform rain, and the entire event is longer, suggesting a slower moving wave. The Kelvin wave vertical structure is somewhat overwhelmed by the convective envelope associated with the MJO. When the MJO is developing, the Kelvin wave displays a moisture-rich environment after the passage, providing deep tropospheric moisture that is postulated to be important for the onset of the MJO. The convective cloud population prior to MJO initiation shows increased moisture and a population of low- to mid-level clouds. The moisture precedes shallow convection, which develops into the deep convection of the MJO, supporting the discharge-recharge theory of MJO initiation. Additionally, enhanced moisture after the passage of the pre-MJO Kelvin wave could also support the frictional Kelvin-Rossby wave-CISK theory of MJO initiation. With a better understanding of the interaction between the initiation of the MJO and Kelvin waves, the relationships between the environment and the onset of the convection of the MJO can be improved.

publication date

  • August 2013