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ENSO modulation of seasonal rainfall and extremes in Indonesia

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This paper provides a detailed description of how ENSO events affect seasonal and extreme precipitation over Indonesia. Daily precipitation data from 97 stations across Indonesia covering the period from 1981 to 2012 were used to investigate the effects of El Niño and La Niña on extreme precipitation characteristics including intensity, frequency and duration, as defined based on a subset of the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI). Although anomalous signals in these three indices were consistent with those of total rainfall, anomalies in the duration of extremes [i.e., consecutive dry days (CDD) and consecutive wet days (CWD)] were much more robust. El Niño impacts were particularly prominent during June–July–August (JJA) and September–October–November (SON), when anomalously dry conditions were experienced throughout the country. However, from SON, a wet anomaly appeared over northern Sumatra, later expanding eastward during December–January–February (DJF) and March–April–May (MAM), creating contrasting conditions of wet in the west and dry in the east. We attribute this apparent eastward expansion of a wet anomaly during El Niño progression to the equatorial convergence of two anti-cyclonic circulations, one residing north of the equator and the other south of the equator. These anti-cyclonic circulations strengthen and weaken according to seasonal changes and their coupling with regional seas, hence shaping moisture transport and convergence. During La Niña events, the eastward expansion of an opposite (i.e., dry) anomaly was also present but less prominent than that of El Niño. We attribute this to differences in regional ocean—atmosphere coupling, which result in the contrasting seasonal evolution of the two corresponding anomalous cyclonic circulations and in turn suggests the strong nonlinearity of El Niño and La Niña responses over the Maritime Continent. Based on the seasonal behaviour of anomalous CDD and CWD, we propose five sub-divisions of the Indonesian region for both El Niño and La Niña.

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The first author thanks the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) (S-140/LPDP.3/2014) for providing a scholarship for his PhD program. This research was also funded by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia ICONIC-2013-001, and is related to the Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research Grants (ARCP2013-17NMY-Tangang/ST-2013-017, ARCP2014-07CMY-2014-Tangang/ST-2015-013, ARCP2015-04CMY-Tangang/ST-2015-003).

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Correspondence to Fredolin Tangang.

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Supari, Tangang, F., Salimun, E. et al. ENSO modulation of seasonal rainfall and extremes in Indonesia. Clim Dyn 51, 2559–2580 (2018).

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