Earth Institute Research Projects

The Madden Julian Oscillation and the Maritime Continent

Lead PI: Prof. Adam Sobel

Unit Affiliation: Ocean & Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

April 2016 - March 2019
Asia ; Southeast Asia
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a weather disturbance that emanates in the tropics but influences weather globally. This project will improve both the understanding and ability to predict the weather disturbances associated with the MJO. The focus is on how the disturbances move from west to east across the Maritime Continent, which is the region along the equator around and including Indonesia. The project will seek to understand how the presence of the Indonesian islands, as well as the mountains on those islands, influence the motion of the weather disturbances: what causes the disturbances either to move across the islands or not do so, and how that motion can be forecast better.  The project will do this two ways. First, idealized sensitivity experiments will be performed using models. For example, the islands will be removed entirely, or retained with mountains removed. Second, weather forecast simulations which have already been carried out by weather prediction centers around the world will be analyzed. The project team will examine forecasts that compared well with what occurred, such as those in which the weather disturbances moved eastward across the Maritime Continent.  The project will improve understanding of the MJO. On a more practical level, the project will lead to improved long-range weather forecasts. A graduate student will also be trained. The results of this project will be communicated to the public through public lectures, blogs, and op-ed pieces.