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Weather types across the Maritime Continent: from the diurnal cycle to interannual variations

Moron, Vincent; Robertson, Andrew W.; Qian, Jian-Hua; Ghil, Michael

Six weather types (WTs) are computed across the Maritime Continent during austral summer (September–April) using cluster analysis of unfiltered, daily, low-level winds at 850 hPa, by a k-means algorithm. This approach is shown to provide a unified view of the interactions across scales, from island-scale diurnal circulations to large-scale interannual ones. The WTs are interpreted either as snapshots of the intraseasonal Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO); or as seasonal features, such as the transition between boreal- and austral-summer monsoons; or as slow variations associated with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Scale interactions are analyzed in terms of the different phenomena that modulate regional-scale wind speed and direction, or the diurnal-cycle strength of rainfall. Decomposing atmospheric anomalies, relative to the mean annual cycle, into interannual and sub-seasonal components yields similar WT structures on both of these time scales for most of the WTs (4 out of 6). This result suggests that slow (viz. ENSO) and fast (viz. MJO) oscillatory variations superimposed on the mean annual cycle modulate the occurrence rate of WTs, without modifying radically their mean patterns. The latter pattern invariance holds especially true for MJO-type, propagating variations, while the quasi-stationary, planetary-scale ENSO variations have more impact on WT structure. These findings are interpreted with the help of dynamical systems theory. Interannual modulation of WT frequency is strongest for the “transitional” WTs between the boreal- and austral-summer monsoons, as well as for the “quiescent” WT, for which low-level winds are reduced over the whole of monsoonal Indonesia. The WT that characterizes NW monsoon surges, and peaks during the austral-summer monsoon in January-February, does not appear to be strongly modulated at the interannual time scale. The diurnal cycle is shown to play an important role in determining the rainfall over islands, particularly in the case of the quiescent WT that is more frequent during El Niño and the suppressed phase of the MJO; both of these lead to more rainfall over southern Java, western Sumatra, and western Borneo.

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Also Published In

Frontiers in Environmental Science

More About This Work

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International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Frontiers Media
Published Here
May 26, 2016