National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2018

A paper on the tropical intraseasonal oscillation published in 1963 in a Chinese journal

Li, T., L. Wang, M. Peng, B. Wang, C. Zhang, W. Lau, and H.-C. Kuo

Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., 99(9), 1765–1779, doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0216.1, View online (open access) (2018)

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) identified by Madden and Julian in the early 1970s has been well recognized as the most prominent intraseasonal signal in the tropics. Its discovery and its relationship with other weather phenomena such as tropical cyclones (TCs) are among the most significant advancements in modern meteorology with broad and far-reaching impacts. The original study by Madden and Julian used radiosonde data on Canton Island, and their spectral analysis revealed the signal of a 40–50-day oscillation.

It has come to our attention that an earlier study by Xie et al. published in a Chinese journal documented an oscillatory signal of a 45-day period using radiosonde data from several stations between 70° and 125°E in the tropics. The 40–50-day signal found by Xie et al. is strikingly evident without any filtering. Xie et al. identified that occurrences of TCs are correlated with the 40–50-day variation of low-level westerlies at these stations. The original figures in Xie et al.’s article were hand drawn. Their results are verified using data from a longer period of 1958–70. The 40–50-day oscillation in the monsoon westerlies and its relationship with the occurrence of TCs are confirmed and further expanded upon.

This study serves the purpose of bringing recognition to the community of the identification of a 40–50-day signal published in Chinese in 1963 and the discovery of the correlation between MJO phases and TC genesis three decades earlier than studies on this subject published outside China.

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