Meridional momentum flux and superrotation in the multiscale IPESD MJO model

Joseph A. Biello, Andrew J. Majda, Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The derivation of the meridional momentum flux arising from a multiscale horizontal velocity field in the intraseasonal, planetary, equatorial synoptic-scale dynamics (IPESD) multiscale models of the equatorial troposphere is presented. It is shown that, because of the balance dynamics on the synoptic scales, the synoptic-scale component of the meridional momentum flux convergence must always vanish at the equator. Plausible Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) models are presented along with their planetary-scale meridional momentum fluxes. These models are driven by synoptic-scale heating fluctuations that have vertical and meridional tilts. Irrespective of the sign of the synoptic-scale meridional momentum flux (direction of the tilts) in each of the four MJO examples, the zonal and vertical mean meridional momentum flux convergence from the planetary scales always drives westerly winds near the equator: this is the superrotation characteristic of actual MJOs. The concluding discussion demonstrates that equatorial superrotation occurs when the planetary flow due to the vertical upscale momentum flux from synoptic scales reinforces the horizontally convergent flow due to planetary-scale mean heating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1636-1651
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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