Climate Dynamics

, Volume 46, Issue 1–2, pp 245–262 | Cite as

Influence of the Madden Julian Oscillation on precipitation and surface air temperature in South America

  • Mariano S. AlvarezEmail author
  • C. S. Vera
  • G. N. Kiladis
  • B. Liebmann


The regional influence of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) on South America is described. Maps of probability of weekly-averaged rainfall exceeding the upper tercile were computed for all seasons and related statistically with the phase of the MJO as characterized by the Wheeler–Hendon real-time multivariate MJO (RMM) index and with the OLR MJO Index. The accompanying surface air temperature and circulation anomalies were also calculated. The influence of the MJO on regional scales along with their marked seasonal variations was documented. During December–February when the South American monsoon system is active, chances of enhanced rainfall are observed in southeastern South America (SESA) region mainly during RMM phases 3 and 4, accompanied by cold anomalies in the extratropics, while enhanced rainfall in the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ) region is observed in phases 8 and 1. The SESA (SACZ) signal is characterized by upper-level convergence (divergence) over tropical South America and a cyclonic (anticyclonic) anomaly near the southern tip of the continent. Impacts during March–May are similar, but attenuated in the extratropics. Conversely, in June–November, reduced rainfall and cold anomalies are observed near the coast of the SACZ region during phases 4 and 5, favored by upper-level convergence over tropical South America and an anticyclonic anomaly over southern South America. In September–November, enhanced rainfall and upper-level divergence are observed in the SACZ region during phases 7 and 8. These signals are generated primarily through the propagation of Rossby wave energy generated in the region of anomalous heating associated with the MJO.


Madden–Julian oscillation South America Precipitation Surface air temperature Impacts 



This research was supported by UBACyT 20020100100434, ANPCyT PICT-2010-2110. M.S.A. is supported by a Ph.D. grant from CONICET, Argentina.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariano S. Alvarez
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. S. Vera
    • 1
  • G. N. Kiladis
    • 2
  • B. Liebmann
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y la Atmósfera, (CIMA/CONICET-UBA), DCAO/FCEN, UMI-IFAECI/CNRSBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Earth System Research LaboratoryNOAABoulderUSA
  3. 3.Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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