Madden–Julian oscillation changes under anthropogenic warming


The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) produces a region of enhanced precipitation that travels eastwards along the Equator in a 40–50 day cycle, perturbing tropical and high-latitude winds, and thereby modulating extreme weather events such as flooding, hurricanes and heat waves. Here, we synthesize current understanding on projected changes in the MJO under anthropogenic warming, demonstrating that MJO-related precipitation variations are likely to increase in intensity, whereas wind variations are likely to increase at a slower rate or even decrease. Nevertheless, future work should address uncertainties in the amplitude of precipitation and wind changes and the impacts of projected SST patterns, with the aim of improving predictions of the MJO and its associated extreme weather.

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Fig. 1: Model average intraseasonal precipitation and wind amplitude changes with warming.
Fig. 2: Indo-Pacific warm pool intraseasonal precipitation and wind amplitude changes with warming.
Fig. 3: Indo-Pacific warm pool dry static energy and latent heat profile changes with warming.
Fig. 4: Indo-Pacific warm pool α and intraseasonal precipitation amplitude changes with warming.
Fig. 5: Schematic summarizing our best understanding of changes in MJO convective anomalies and the anomalous large-scale circulation.


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We thank H. Liu and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for providing the CMIP5 data, and the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP. E.D.M. and H.X.B. were supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. AGS-1441916, and the NOAA MAPP program under grant nos NA15OAR4310098 and NA15OAR4310099.

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H.X.B. generated Figs. 1–4, and contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript. A.F.A. contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript, and generated Fig. 5. E.D.M. led the organization and drafting of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Eric D. Maloney.

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Maloney, E.D., Adames, Á.F. & Bui, H.X. Madden–Julian oscillation changes under anthropogenic warming. Nature Clim Change 9, 26–33 (2019).

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