, Volume 32, Issue 7-8, pp 1139-1153
Date: 30 Apr 2008

Eastward propagating MJO during boreal summer and Indian monsoon droughts

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Abstract

Improved understanding of underlying mechanism responsible for Indian summer monsoon (ISM) droughts is important due to their profound socio-economic impact over the region. While some droughts are associated with ‘external forcing’ such as the El-Niño and Southern Oscillation (ENSO), many ISM droughts are not related to any known ‘external forcing’. Here, we unravel a fundamental dynamic process responsible for droughts arising not only from external forcing but also those associated with internal dynamics. We show that most ISM droughts are associated with at least one very long break (VLB; breaks with duration of more than 10 days) and that the processes responsible for VLBs may also be the mechanism responsible for ISM droughts. Our analysis also reveals that all extended monsoon breaks (whether co-occurred with El-Niño or not) are associated with an eastward propagating Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) in the equatorial Indian Ocean and western Pacific extending to the dateline and westward propagating Rossby waves between 10° and 25°N. The divergent Rossby wave associated with the dry phase of equatorial convection propagates westward towards Indian land, couple with the northward propagating dry phase and leads to the sustenance of breaks. Thus, the propensity of eastward propagating MJO during boreal summer is largely the cause of monsoon droughts. While short breaks are not accompanied by westerly wind events (WWE) over equatorial western Pacific favorable for initiating air–sea interaction, all VLBs are accompanied by sustained WWE. The WWEs associated with all VLB during 1975–2005 initiate air–sea interaction on intraseasonal time scale, extend the warm pool eastward allowing the convectively coupled MJO to propagate further eastward and thereby sustaining the divergent circulation over India and the monsoon break. The ocean–atmosphere coupling on interannual time scale (such as El-Niño) can also produce VLB, but not necessary.