Related Research Areas
Climate Variability & Change, Water & Energy Cycles

At least five recent workshops have focused on the importance of subseasonal variability, particularly the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), in the Earth’s climate system. In addition, US CLIVAR has established a Subseasonal Working Group to address and coordinate activities involving subseasonal variability in the climate system. Despite the growing evidence of the importance of the ocean in this variability and in the practical considerations for its prediction, the interaction between subseasonal variability and the ocean remains poorly understood. For example, the mechanisms by which atmospheric modes modulate subseasonal physical, and in particular biological, processes in the ocean is not only poorly understood but in some cases not even well characterized (e.g., tropical instability waves). This multidisciplinary aims to improve our understanding of tropical subseasonal ocean variability, namely in terms of the physical impacts from the atmosphere on the ocean, the physical and biological interactions within the ocean, and the possible feedbacks that might result from these bio-physical interactions in the ocean. This proposal, led by investigators with extensive experience in observational and modeling studies of oceanic and atmospheric subseasonal variability, will build on the results of their prior studies and will involve both physical-biological modeling and multi-sensor and/or satellite/in-situ merged data analysis to test the hypotheses that: 1) atmospheric subseasonal variability significantly modulates oceanic primary productivity, and 2) this ecosystem response modulates sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and upper ocean stratification via radiation attenuation, and in turn implies a feedback to the atmosphere. The proposed activity directly addresses NASA’s priorities in interpreting satellite data and in understanding the ocean’s role in climate variability and its prediction. We will determine how tropical subseasonal atmospheric variability modulates the spatial and temporal variability of primary productivity in the ocean, and whether the resulting organization of primary productivity induces a significant impact on upper ocean stratification and SSTs. In addition, it will provide the first robust application of a coupled bio-physical ocean model to the study of subseasonal variability on a basin-wide scale. The influence of MJOs on oceanic subseasonal variability such as tropical instability waves (TIWs) and their impact on physical-biological interactions and new and export production need to be understood for better defining the role of coupled ocean-atmosphere processes in modeling and predicting the MJO; especially in the context of the evidence that the MJO exhibits predictability of up to 3-4 weeks lead time. It can be expected that aspects of ocean bio-productivity may also exhibit predictability with similar leads with potentially important implications for fisheries, cholera, carbon cycle, and other related earth system predictions.

Project PI: Raghu Murtugudde/University of Maryland

5825 University Research Court Suite 4001, ESSIC University of Maryland College Park, MD 20740





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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 16, 2010


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