The Idealized Aquaplanet Maritime Continent Barrier Effect on the MJO Predictability

Hyemi Kim, James J. Benedict

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Studies have indicated exaggerated Maritime Continent (MC) barrier effect in simulations of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), a dominant source of subseasonal predictability in the tropics. This issue has plagued the modeling and operational forecasting communities for decades, while the sensitivity of MC barrier on MJO predictability has not been addressed quantitatively. In this study, perfect-model ensemble forecasts are conducted with an aquaplanet configuration of the Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2) in which both basic state and tropical modes of variability are reasonably simulated with a warm pool–like SST distribution. When water-covered terrain mimicking MC landmasses is added to the warm pool–like SST framework, the eastward propagation of the MJO is disturbed by the prescribed MC aqua-mountain. The MJO predictability estimate with the perfect-model experiment is about 6 weeks but reduces to about 4 weeks when the MJO is impeded by the MC aqua-mountain. Given that the recent operational forecasts show an average of 3–4 weeks of MJO prediction skill, we can conclude that improving the MJO propagation crossing the MC could improve the MJO skill to 5–6 weeks, close to the potential predictability found in this study (6 weeks). Therefore, more effort toward understanding and improving the MJO propagation is needed to enhance the MJO and MJO-related forecasts to improve the subseasonal-to-seasonal prediction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5757-5773
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023

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© 2023 American Meteorological Society.


  • Madden-Julian oscillation
  • Numerical weather prediction/forecasting
  • Subseasonal variability


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