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Journal of Climate: Vol. 14, No. 13, pp. 2923-2942.

Equatorial Waves and Air-Sea Interaction in the Boreal Summer Intraseasonal Oscillation

Susan Kemball-Cook* and Bin Wang+

Department of Meteorology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii

(Manuscript received 29 February 2000, accepted 14 August 2000)


    A composite study of the life cycle of the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) was performed using data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration polar-orbiting satellites. Because of pronounced differences in their climatologies, the boreal summer periods May-June (MJ) and August-October (AO) were composited separately. Characteristics of the BSISO life cycle common to MJ and AO were initiation and eastward propagation of the convective anomaly over the Indian Ocean, followed by poleward propagation, with the northward-moving branch having greater amplitude than the southward-moving branch. The transition of convection from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific occurred next, followed by dissipation of the current cycle and initiation of the subsequent cycle. The MJ and AO life cycles were found to have several significant differences. The MJ shows strong eastward movement of convection along the equator in both the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. Convection in AO has a weaker eastward-propagating signal along the equator and displays a discontinuous jump from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific. In marked contrast to MJ, AO shows strong northwestward propagation of convection in the western Pacific during the latter half of the BSISO life cycle. The change in the BSISO life cycle from MJ to AO reflects the seasonal shift in the distributions of vertical wind shear and low-level specific humidity from early to late summer. Rossby waves emitted by equatorial convection play a critical role in the BSISO in both the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. These waves are instrumental in the northward propagation of convection in MJ and AO. Both MJ and AO composites suggest that air-sea interactions are present in the BSISO, fostering both eastward and northward propagation of convective anomalies in the Indian Ocean and in the western Pacific. The complexity and pronounced seasonal dependence of the BSISO reflected in the composites suggest that its simulation is a rigorous test for general circulation models.