Climate Dynamics

, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 41–55 | Cite as

Impact of MJO on the intraseasonal variation of summer monsoon rainfall over India

  • D. S. Pai
  • Jyoti Bhate
  • O. P. Sreejith
  • H. R. Hatwar


The summer monsoon rainfall over India exhibits strong intraseasonal variability. Earlier studies have identified Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) as one of the most influencing factors of the intraseasonal variability of the monsoon rainfall. In this study, using India Meteorological Department (IMD) high resolution daily gridded rainfall data and Wheeler–Hendon MJO indices, the intra-seasonal variation of daily rainfall distribution over India associated with various Phases of eastward propagating MJO life cycle was examined to understand the mechanism linking the MJO to the intraseasonal variability. During MJO Phases of 1 and 2, formation of MJO associated positive convective anomaly over the equatorial Indian Ocean activated the oceanic tropical convergence zone (OTCZ) and the resultant changes in the monsoon circulation caused break monsoon type rainfall distribution. Associated with this, negative convective anomalies over monsoon trough zone region extended eastwards to date line indicating weaker than normal northern hemisphere inter tropical convergence zone (ITCZ). The positive convective anomalies over OTCZ and negative convective anomalies over ITCZ formed a dipole like pattern. Subsequently, as the MJO propagated eastwards to west equatorial Pacific through the maritime continent, a gradual northward shift of the OTCZ was observed and negative convective anomalies started appearing over equatorial Indian Ocean. During Phase 4, while the eastwards propagating MJO linked positive convective anomalies activated the eastern part of the ITCZ, the northward propagating OTCZ merged with monsoon trough (western part of the ITCZ) and induced positive convective anomalies over the region. During Phases 5 and 6, the dipole pattern in convective anomalies was reversed compared to that during Phases 1 and 2. This resulted active monsoon type rainfall distribution over India. During the subsequent Phases (7 and 8), the convective and lower tropospheric anomaly patterns were very similar to that during Phase 1 and 2 except for above normal convective anomalies over equatorial Indian Ocean. A general decrease in the rainfall was also observed over most parts of the country. The associated dry conditions extended up to northwest Pacific. Thus the impact of the MJO on the monsoon was not limited to the Indian region. The impact was rather felt over larger spatial scale extending up to Pacific. This study also revealed that the onset of break and active events over India and the duration of these events are strongly related to the Phase and strength of the MJO. The break events were relatively better associated with the strong MJO Phases than the active events. About 83% of the break events were found to be set in during the Phases 7, 8, 1 and 2 of MJO with maximum during Phase 1 (40%). On the other hand, about 70% of the active events were set in during the MJO Phases of 3 to 6 with maximum during Phase 4 (21%). The results of this study indicate an opportunity for using the real time information and skillful prediction of MJO Phases for the prediction of break and active conditions which are very crucial for agriculture decisions.


MJO Monsoon Rainfall ITCZ 



Madden Julian Oscillation


Oceanic tropical convergence zone


Inter tropical convergence zone


El Nino Southern Oscillation


Real-time Multivariate MJO indices


Principal component


Empirical orthogonal function



We express our sincere thanks to Dr. Ajit Tyagi, DGM, India Meteorological Department for the encouragement and support in carrying out this research work. We also thank Dr. M. Rajeevan and Dr. M. C. Wheeler for their valuable suggestions for the improvement of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. S. Pai
    • 1
  • Jyoti Bhate
    • 2
  • O. P. Sreejith
    • 1
  • H. R. Hatwar
    • 1
  1. 1.India Meteorological DepartmentPuneIndia
  2. 2.National Atmospheric Research LaboratoryGadnkiIndia

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