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Publication Date
15 May 2024

Effects of Surface Turbulence Flux Parameterizations on the MJO: The Role of Ocean Surface Waves



This study investigates the sensitivity of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) to changes to the bulk flux parameterization and the role of ocean surface waves in air–sea coupling using a fully coupled ocean–atmosphere–wave model. The atmospheric and ocean model components of the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) are coupled to a spectral wave model, WAVEWATCH III (WW3). Two experiments with wind speed–dependent bulk algorithms (NCAR and COARE3.0a) and one experiment with wave-state-dependent flux (COR3.0a-WAV) were conducted. We modify COARE3.0a to include surface roughness calculated within WW3 and also account for the buffering effect of waves on the relative difference between air-side and ocean-side momentum flux. Differences in surface fluxes, primarily caused by discrepancies in drag coefficients, result in significant differences in MJO’s properties. While COARE3.0a has better convection–circulation coupling than NCAR, it exhibits anomalous MJO convection east of the date line. The wave-state-dependent flux (COR3.0-WAV) improves the MJO representation over the default COARE3.0 algorithm. Strong easterlies over the Pacific Ocean in COARE3.0a enhance the latent heat flux (LHFLX). This is responsible for the anomalous MJO propagation after the date line. In COR3.0a-WAV, waves reduce the anomalous easterlies, leading to a decrease in LHFLX and MJO dissipation after the date line. These findings highlight the role of surface fluxes in MJO simulation fidelity. Most importantly, we show that the proper treatment of wave-induced effects in bulk flux parameterization improves the simulation of coupled climate variability.

Ikuyajolu, Olawale James, Luke Van Roekel, Steven R. Brus, Erin E. Thomas, Yi Deng, and James J. Benedict. 2024. “Effects Of Surface Turbulence Flux Parameterizations On The Mjo: The Role Of Ocean Surface Waves”. Journal Of Climate 37 (10). American Meteorological Society: 3011-3036. doi:10.1175/jcli-d-23-0490.1.
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)