Tropical Meteorology and Climate: Madden-Julian Oscillation: Skeleton and Conceptual Models

A. J. Majda, S. N. Stechmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Madden-Julian Oscillation's (MJO's) 'skeleton' is its fundamental features on intraseasonal/planetary scales: (1) slow eastward phase speed of roughly 5 m s-1, (2) peculiar dispersion relation with dω/dk ∼ 0, and (3) horizontal quadrupole vortex structure. The MJO skeleton model is a minimal, nonlinear oscillator model that captures these three features together. The fundamental mechanism involves interactions between moisture, convective activity, and equatorial fluid dynamics. Further details beyond the MJO skeleton are referred to as the MJO's 'muscle' and include refined vertical structure and upscale convective momentum transport from subplanetary-scale convection and waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780123822260
ISBN (Print)9780123822253
StatePublished - 2015


  • Convective momentum transport
  • Convectively coupled equatorial waves
  • Equatorial Rossby wave
  • Equatorial waves
  • Kelvin wave
  • Madden-Julian Oscillation
  • Tropical convection
  • Tropical intraseasonal oscillation
  • Water vapor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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